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Prosecutors urge guilty verdict for principal accused of sex abuse



Using pretend love and concern, former ultra-Orthodox Jewish principal Malka Leifer groomed and sexually abused three young students for her own gratification, jurors have been told.

Leifer, 56, is facing 27 charges over the alleged abuse of Melbourne sisters Nicole Meyer, Dassi Erlich and Elly Sapper when she was head of religion and principal of the Adass Israel School in the city's eastern suburbs between 2003 and 2007.

Leifer, a mother of eight, has pleaded not guilty and is standing trial in the Victorian County Court.

READ MORE: Orthodox principal Malka Leifer 'took advantage' of teens, jury told

Prosecutor Justin Lewis closed the Crown case on Thursday after a month of evidence.

"These three sisters had a miserable home life and as far as the accused was concerned, they were ripe for the picking," he said.

"There's no mystery in any of them speaking highly of her – they were getting love and attention from one of the most revered and respected people they knew."

He said even if the young women didn't understand the sexual nature of what was being done to them, because of their highly sheltered upbringing, they understood what they thought was her love.

READ MORE: Ultra-Orthodox teacher Malka Leifer was 'teary' after being stood down over sexual abuse allegations

That's why the offending went on for long before any complaint was made, Mr Lewis said.

He told jurors Leifer had manipulated the young women's emotions while she abused them for her own sexual gratification.

"You have more than enough evidence to convict the accused on the charges before you … and I ask you to do so," he said.

He told jurors to consider the context in which the complaints were made by each of the three women.

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In each alleged incident Leifer started with lesser acts, was able to observe the reaction of the women and increased the seriousness of the acts, he said.

In relation to offending against Erlich, he said Leifer's confidence in getting away with what she was doing would increase.

In turn, Erlich became more used to what was happening.

"It was simply, for her, the way things were," he said.

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The three women were raised in the ultra-Orthodox community and had little contact with the world outside, with members of the opposite sex, or any sex education, jurors have heard.

Sapper first outlined allegations of abuse against Leifer to a counsellor in March 2008, when she said Leifer didn't listen when she asked her to stop.

"She even asked me if I was enjoying it and when I said 'no I don't like it' she said I would never be able to give a man pleasure," she said.

Meyer said abuse against her began when she was receiving private lessons from Leifer at school on Sundays.

She told a medical expert in 2014 that she had not previously experienced any physical touch by teachers, but Leifer had made it seem as if it was OK.

Leifer's barrister, Ian Hill KC, will address jurors later on Thursday.

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