Thursday, May 5 , 2016, 9:31 am | Partly Cloudy 59º

Appeals Court Delays Release of Sexually Violent Predator

Lower court had ordered convicted rapist Tibor Karsai released to Santa Barbara County as a transient

By Lara Cooper, Noozhawk Staff Writer | @laraanncooper |

A state appeals court on Wednesday issued an order preventing the release of a sexually violent predator in Santa Barbara County, pending further hearings on the matter.

Tibor Karsai was convicted in 1974 in Santa Barbara of forcible rape, and was paroled three years later to San Luis Obispo. Karsai was convicted six years later of forcible rape in Placer County, and sentenced to 26 years in state prison. He was then transferred to a state mental hospital, where he was designated as a sexually violent predator.

Karsai, 58, was to be released from custody through a program run by a company called Liberty Healthcare, which provides supervision for people released from prison.

On March 27, a Placer County Superior Court judge ruled that Karsai be released to Santa Barbara County as a transient on or before April 16.

Immediately after receiving that decision, Santa Barbara County District Attorney Joyce Dudley challenged the ruling, asking that the Third District Court of Appeal consider the matter.

Dudley told Noozhawk on Wednesday that while she understands that people like Karsai have paid their debt to society, “it’s important that everybody pay attention to the rules.”

The heart of the matter has been where Karsai’s domicile was before being incarcerated.

Prosecutors objected to his placement in a Santa Maria home because it was within 2,000 feet of a school. Now, that home isn’t available, Dudley said, so Karsai would be released as a transient.

The District Attorney’s Office has also argued that San Luis Obispo was Karsai’s proper domicile because it was where he was living before being sentenced.

Dudley said she has been informed that two other apartments have opened up that are capable of taking Karsai, one in Placer County and one in Sacramento.

“If you are truly looking to rehabilitate somebody, don’t release them as a transient,” she said.

A motion to stay the Superior Court decision was filed by Dudley on Monday and was granted by the Court of Appeal on Wednesday.

The Court of Appeal will now consider the merits of the case and make a final decision on where Karsai ultimately will be released. No timetable for that decision was given.

Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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