Lawyers for Malka Leifer, who is set to stand trial in Australia for 70 counts of sexual abuse against three former students, are reportedly looking into seeking expert advice on her fitness to stand trial, according to the Australian Jewish News.
In September, the Melbourne Magistrates Court ruled at the end of a committal hearing that there was enough proof to try Leifer for the abuse that allegedly occurred between 2003-2008, during Leifer's time as principal of the Adass Israel School in Melbourne.
Earlier in the year, Leifer was extradited from Israel to Australia to face the charges against her. Now, her defense lawyers are considering a report on her ability to stand trial.
In an online hearing on Thursday, Jude Matthew Phillips queried her lawyer Ian Hill: “There’s an indication that you may or will be seeking a report considering your client’s fitness to stand trial. Is that a course that you are pursuing?”
Hill said that they were “considering” such a procedure. When asked how long it would take them to make a decision, Hill responded that they would have an answer by the time the matter was brought up in court.
The judge said that Leifer’s ability to stand trial was a “particularly key issue” and that it was necessary due to the extended time she has been in custody to “progress it as quickly as we can and move to getting some trial documents and things in place.”
However, Hill said at the hearing that it was “troubling” that the prosecution “have said they propose to rely upon post-conduct offending.”
He said that until he could see those indictments and related documents, he would not make any other decisions.
At the hearing, it was said that Leifer’s trial would last about three to four weeks and would take place in 2022.
Leifer has pleaded not guilty to 70 charges of sexual abuse. She is being held in custody.