The former principal of the Adass Israel School in Elsternwick is accused of sexually abusing three of her then students between 2001 and 2008. Ms Leifer, who was extradited on 74 charges, has long maintained she is innocent.
Ms Leifer fled to Israel in 2008 when the allegations were first aired. The Israeli court’s decision in December to dismiss her appeal against extradition ended a six-year legal fight to have her return to face court in Melbourne.
Federal Attorney-General Christian Porter said Ms Leifer’s arrival concluded a long-running process to see her returned to Australia.
“Ms Leifer’s return to Australia marks the end of a very long and complicated extradition,” he said in a statement.
“I thank the Israeli Government for its cooperation and assistance during the course of this process.
“The arrival of Ms Leifer in Australia will bring relief to alleged victims who have waited many years for this moment.
“It is now important that the legal processes are allowed to proceed in Victoria without commentary which could affect that process.”
Ms Leifer is expected to spend at least two weeks in quarantine in custody after her arrival in Melbourne. During that time, she will appear before Melbourne Magistrates Court for an initial administrative hearing.
That filing hearing is expected to be conducted via a video link, which will mean Ms Leifer won’t have to attend court in person while in quarantine. She will also have the option of seeking bail in one of her early hearings.
All new prisoners in Victorian jails must spend 14 days in quarantine to safeguard against the coronavirus infiltrating the state’s prison system.
The flight Ms Leifer boarded in Israel was one of the last to leave the country before airports closed due to coronavirus restrictions.
Ms Leifer’s alleged victims – sisters Dassi Erlich, Elly Sapper and Nicole Meyer – were heavily involved in the push to have her extradited, but have not commented on her extradition so as not to prejudice the looming court case.
If you or anyone you know needs support, you can contact the National Sexual Assault, Domestic and Family Violence Counselling Service on 1800RESPECT (1800 737 732), Lifeline 131 114, or Beyond Blue 1300 224 636.
Adam Cooper joined The Age in 2011 after a decade with AAP. Email or tweet Adam with your news tips.
David Estcourt is a court and general news reporter at The Age.