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Sexual Predator’s Release Triggers Dark, 40-Year-Old Memories for Rape Survivor

Orcutt woman recounts assault by Tibor Karsai that she alleges occurred when she was 13, says she's coming forward 'for all the other little girls out there'

An Orcutt woman has come forward to report she was raped by Tibor Karsai in 1971 when she was 13 and on a sleepover with Karsai’s sister, her best friend at the time. The woman and the Karsai family lived a few houses apart in Goleta’s Rhoads Avenue neighborhood, then as now a quiet community of neatly kept single-family homes. “When I saw the last article, that he was definitely getting out (of incarceration), that was the one that brought chills down to the bone,” the woman tells Noozhawk in explaining why she’s speaking up now. “I couldn’t hold my legs underneath me, and I realized I needed to tell my story.”

An Orcutt woman has come forward to report she was raped by Tibor Karsai in 1971 when she was 13 and on a sleepover with Karsai’s sister, her best friend at the time. The woman and the Karsai family lived a few houses apart in Goleta’s Rhoads Avenue neighborhood, then as now a quiet community of neatly kept single-family homes. “When I saw the last article, that he was definitely getting out (of incarceration), that was the one that brought chills down to the bone,” the woman tells Noozhawk in explaining why she’s speaking up now. “I couldn’t hold my legs underneath me, and I realized I needed to tell my story.”  (Bill Macfadyen / Noozhawk photo via iPhone)

By Tom Bolton, Noozhawk Executive Editor | @tombol | updated logo |

Amy was 13 years old and living in Goleta when her innocence was ripped away from her, a dark secret that remained hidden for nearly 40 years.

Tibor Karsai, designated by the State of California as a
Tibor Karsai, designated by the State of California as a “sexually violent predator,” was released in Santa Barbara County on April 15. Karsai served three years in prison for a vicious rape of a 19-year-old Santa Barbara woman in 1973. After his parole, he was convicted of a second savage sexual assault of a 16-year-old girl in Placer County.

She kept what happened bottled up, even as it gnawed away at her and shaped her life in unwelcome ways.

“It’s one of those things I would think about, but not in detail,” the 54-year-old Orcutt resident told Noozhawk. “It would pop up, but for so long I thought I had buried it.”

Then her hidden past burst to the surface one day in 2010, when she opened up a local newspaper and saw Tibor Karsai’s picture staring back at her.

The accompanying article said that Karsai, who had served a lengthy prison sentence after brutally raping two young women, might be released from a state mental hospital where he had been held as a sexually violent predator.

“I can’t even explain the feeling,” said Amy, who asked that her last name not be published. “It was just dread. It wasn’t for me. It was for all the other little girls out there.”

The intense fear she felt stemmed from her belief that the man she knew as Ted Karsai — the older brother of her best friend in childhood — would do to other young girls what she says he did to her more than four decades ago.

“He raped me,” Amy said, her voice wavering only slightly.

Karsai, 59, is now living somewhere in Santa Barbara County, having been released earlier this month as a transient. A Placer County judge — ultimately with the assent of the state Supreme Court — ordered him released in Santa Barbara County, rebuffing the efforts of District Attorney Joyce Dudley and other local officials to keep him away.

What little information has been released regarding Karsai’s whereabouts suggests he is living in an RV or trailer in some remote location in the North County, closely supervised by a private company that specializes in such cases.

That’s little consolation to Amy, who during a lengthy interview with Noozhawk described what Karsai did to her.

“It took me a lot of years to figure out that it had a major effect on how I lived my life,” she said. “I married several times, and every time, as soon as I felt threatened in any way — and I wasn’t married to bad people — I would leave the marriage. But I always wanted to be married.”

Marriage was far from Amy’s mind on New Year’s Eve 1971, when she made plans to spend the night with her best friend, one of Karsai’s sisters, at their home a few doors down the street from where she lived on Rhoads Avenue south of Hollister Avenue, in a quiet neighborhood of modest single-family houses not far from the Magnolia Shopping Center.

The Karsai home “was a pretty lax household,” Amy said, which made it a fun place to be.

Although Amy’s parents had divorced when she was in kindergarten, she recalls a childhood that, if something short of idyllic, was not particularly dysfunctional.

“I felt that my family was normal,” she said.

She lived with her mother and stepfather in the home on Rhoads Avenue, but regularly saw her father, who had his own place in the Ellwood area. She attended local schools and graduated from San Marcos High School in 1976.

But, she said, her life was forever changed on that New Year’s Eve; she was in her best friend’s room when Karsai and a friend came in.

“I can’t remember exactly how it happened,” Amy said. “We were drinking orange sodas, and he poured vodka in my soda.”

Amy said she had never consumed alcohol before — “It was new to me, and I was timid about it, but I was 13 and I was going to try it.”

She doesn’t remember how much she drank, but recalls being “pretty much aware of what was going on the majority of the night.”

Amy said she and Karsai’s sister, who she requested not be named for this story, were like peas in a pod, having frequent sleepovers and often sharing the same bed.

They went to sleep late that night, well after midnight since it was New Year’s Eve, and she awoke sometime later.

“I felt someone get into bed, and I just moved over,” she recalled, thinking it was her friend.

“Then I felt an arm go over my face — the weight of an arm over the side of my face,” she continued. “I tried to pull to the side — first I thought it was (the sister) playing around, but then I realized I was pinned down.

“I could see the outline of Ted’s face, and I knew it was him, because I had grown up with him.

“And then I felt the weight of his body move over on top of me, and I was struggling, but I was scared to say anything. I was trying to move out from under his weight.

“He didn’t threaten me or anything; he just shushed me up. Shhhhs. Shhhhs. Shhhhs.”

That’s when Karsai sexually assaulted her, Amy said.

“Then I felt like all of a sudden it was morning ...” Amy recalled. “I went into the bathroom, and I was bleeding vaginally.

“I called my girlfriend in, and I didn’t use the word rape, and I said, ‘I think your brother did something to me.’

“I pulled my hand out to show her the blood on my hand.”

Amy said the sister “just nodded her head. I’m speculating, but it didn’t seem to surprise her.”

The sister bolted from the bathroom, Amy said, ran into Karsai’s room and began screaming at him in Hungarian, the family’s native language.

Later that morning, as Amy and the sister walked together down the street to Amy’s house, the two made a pledge that they would keep what had happened a secret.

Amy said she never spoke of the incident again until she learned of Karsai’s possible release.

She didn’t tell her own mother at the time, she said, because her sister, not long before, had accused their stepfather of touching her inappropriately, “and my mother didn’t want to talk to her about it.”

She also was fearful that telling would cost her her dearest friend.

“I was afraid because the most important thing to me was my friendship,” she said.

She also remembers that Karsai, whom she described as a neighborhood bully, taunted her long after the night he forced himself on her.

“He was very intimidating, and I was already afraid of him,” she said.

Still reeling from the sexual assault, Amy was traumatized again a month later when her father suddenly died at age 40.

Two years later, in 1973, Karsai raped a 19-year-old woman at a trailer park near Santa Barbara, the crime that first sent him to prison. (After his release three years later, he would later savagely rape a 16-year-old girl in Placer County.)

Also in 1973, while Amy was in ninth grade, she gave birth to her first child, a son, at the age of 15. He was the product of a relationship with a boyfriend of the same age.

She eventually married and had two more children — both daughters — and went through a series of failed relationships.

Because of the rape, she said, “I was very promiscuous throughout my life. You’d think it would be the opposite but it wasn’t.”

Amy studied horticulture at Santa Barbara City College, and started a landscaping business, before returning to school to get her cosmetology license.

She operated salons in Santa Barbara for a number of years before moving to the Reno area, then returned to Santa Barbara County in 2010.

Today, she owns and operates a business in Buellton, and lives with a man who has given her tremendous support as she grapples with her memories and steps forward to tell her story.

She reached out to Dudley’s office, she said, because she wants to send a cautionary message to today’s parents of young children.

“When I saw the last article, that he was definitely getting out, that was the one that brought chills down to the bone,” she said. “I couldn’t hold my legs underneath me, and I realized I needed to tell my story.

“Hopefully, even if it’s just one parent who sees the significance of this, they will be that much more in tune to what their children are doing and where they are spending the night.”

Amy contacted Dudley’s office, which assigned an investigator to interview her. Dudley herself researched whether it was possible to prosecute Karsai for the assault.

However, because so much time has passed — and based on the laws in effect at the time — the statute of limitations prevents prosecutors from taking any action against Karsai, said Dudley, who called the case “heartbreaking.”

“Had it been possible for us to file charges in this case, we would have,” Dudley said. “The standard in criminal cases is ‘beyond a reasonable doubt,’ and were it not for the statute of limitations running out, I feel we could prove it.”

Amy said she doesn’t feel physically threatened now that Karsai is in the community.

“It’s just knowing that he’s out there, and he’s of a certain mind set, and he will be preying on another young girl,” she said.

She doesn’t accept the assurances from state hospital officials who say Karsai is rehabilitated and suitable for release.

“Knowing him, and knowing how much pleasure he got out of making me uncomfortable after what he’d done, I don’t believe it’s possible to rehabilitate him,” she said.

Amy said the last few years have caused her to really reflect on her life.

“I’ve been sad a lot lately, but I’ve forged through a lot in my life,” she said. “I feel good about myself.”

Amy paused when asked what she would do if she encountered Karsai on the street.

“I’ve thought about it ...” she said. “The truth is, I firmly believe that you cannot penetrate someone like him. So no matter what you were to say, it wouldn’t really matter. He’s nothing more than a criminal who repeats the same act over and over again.”

Amy said she spent a sleepless night after sharing her story last week, “haunted” by the realization that by not speaking up so many years ago, she may have allowed other girls to be victimized by Karsai.

But she pledged to be silent no more.

“I’m dedicating myself to seeing that this doesn’t happen again,” she said.

Click here for Santa Barbara Rape Crisis Center resources available to assist sexual-assault victims and their families.

Click here for information about the Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s Victim-Witness Program, which has additional resources available to assist victims and their families.

Noozhawk executive editor Tom Bolton 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.

comments powered by Disqus

» on 04.29.13 @ 12:22 AM

Thank you Amy for being brave enough to tell your story. Your courage will help other young women who are frightened and confused come forward to protect others AND help themselves heal. We can only pray that this Karsai perpetrator never has a chance to rape again.

» on 04.29.13 @ 01:13 AM

When you vote for Democrats this is one of many consequeses you must live with.

» on 04.29.13 @ 10:31 AM

Excellent and powerful. Amy is brave to tell her story, and hopefully it will prevent another tragic rape of a young teen.

» on 04.29.13 @ 01:54 PM

NO!  We can do more than pray.  That’s a good start.  Then we can help Amy get her story OUT THERE.  Especially to woman and girls we know in the area.  We can watch for him.  We can send a very clear message to other silent victims - of Karsai and the rest - that they have a RIGHT to come forward, that they will be HEARD, SUPPORTED, and LAUDED for helping to save others from having to go through the same nightmare.  They have an important, valuable part to play in our community and the rest of us have a responsibility to rally with them and erase the ridiculously STUPID stigmas that aid and encourage these predators.  They are virtually unable to be rehabilitated.  Anyone remember Phil Garrido?  Same story - released after violent sexual behavior repeatedly and then “lived a quiet life” except he had Jaycee Duggard locked in a shed in his backyard for 19 years.  Thank you, Amy.  You are a hero, and I hope this is a positive part of your healing process.

» on 04.29.13 @ 02:35 PM

Those who say that there can “never” be rehabilitation, please provide statistics showing that’s so. An isolated horrible case here and there does NOT prove that there can be no rehabilitation. Each person, each incident is different.

Good for Amy for speaking up. Parents need to pay attention to their children, be aware of where they are, actually and emotionally.

» on 04.29.13 @ 02:54 PM

Thank you for sharing your story. May you continue to heal. Blessings.

» on 04.29.13 @ 03:49 PM

Just off the top of Google’s head…

Excerpts of “Can sexual predators be rehabilitated?”
By CROSSCURRENTS PRO… on January 5, 2011 - 3:55pm
By Jude-Joffe Block and Amanda Dyer

****“In 13 years, just 20 men out of 850 patients have advanced to the final treatment stage and been authorized by the hospital to go home. Another 200 or so have been released by the courts against the hospital’s recommendation.”****

As for LeRay, he hopes to stick with his treatment regimen and become one of the few to progress to Phase Five.

LERAY: It’s not a cure, but it’s tools that we can use, that I can use. Rather than go back, I can use the tools to help me move forward. You know, and not create another victim.

If LeRay completes this level of treatment, he’ll go to Phase Four. Which means preparing to get out. Ernie Marshall is a clinician at Coalinga. He says the few who are released through this treatment program still face strict supervision in the community.

ERNIE MARSHALL: We are not recommending they get released unconditionally. We are recommending they get released conditionally into a very structured conditional, probably the most structured conditional release program, at least in the state of California.

It’s also possibly the smallest release program in the state. In 13 years, just 20 men out of 850 patients have advanced to the final treatment stage and been authorized by the hospital to go home. Another 200 or so have been released by the courts against the hospital’s recommendation.


Can adult sex offenders be rehabilitated?
By RICK NAUERT PHD Senior News Editor
Reviewed by John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on June 30, 2006
An editorial in the British Medical Journal poses the chilling question. According to the experts, psychological treatment for adult sex offenders can reduce reoffending rates but does not provide a cure.


How many statistics would you like, exactly?  Phil Garrido’s belief is that he was “cured” of pedophilia after watching his baby being born - Jaycee Duggard’s baby.  Interestingly, she had another child by him after that.  He claims he never touched his own children - does that throw him into the “rehabilitated” category then?  He also wrote a detailed report and submitted to the FBI explaining his “insights” into how pedophiles could be “cured.” This was actually the only reason he finally got caught and Jaycee was freed.  Mental illnesses are a spectrum.  One end is “curable” moving toward “treatable” and the other end is “incurable” and only possibly “managed” to try to minimize further damage to the community.

Please provide any kind of positive statistics of violent sexual offender rehabilitation that I may have missed in my research.  I’d love to hear some good news on this subject.

» on 04.29.13 @ 05:39 PM

It is amazing how we have become so ‘civilized’ that we allow monsters to live among us.  They are broken and cannot be fixed, but the reformers (liberals) among us continue to release them to prey on our loved ones again and again.  It is great that Amy can tell her story, but it would be better if we kept the monsters locked up so no one else does.

» on 04.29.13 @ 09:23 PM

San Ysidro:
There is much variation as to what constitutes “sex offender”. Here are some facts/myths from NY State: http://www.criminaljustice.ny.gov/nsor/som_mythsandfacts.htm

Here’s a study showing there are variations and can be improvement: http://bit.ly/11xUGCU

Having a personal history that, to a certain extent, resembles Amy’s, including not revealing what happened at the time, I would offer that therapy for the “victim,” a word I dislike, can be very helpful. The constant display of Karsai’s photo must be disturbing, digging up, bringing to the surface stuff better left. Good luck and happiness to her. I am not sure what can be done to make sure this sort of thing does not happen again, except to work with children, with the schools, helping those children who are troubled, disturbed.

» on 04.29.13 @ 09:50 PM

Statistically speaking, Tibor Karsai has raped again every time he’s been released into society. Why will this time have different results?

» on 04.29.13 @ 10:50 PM

Hopefully, PGL, the difference will be there will be 24/7 monitoring and that the monitors will be monitored. http://tinyurl.com/cpgnxzh

» on 04.29.13 @ 11:36 PM

This is Amy….The best therapy is being able to tell my story.  The last two weeks have been interesting in that details of the night are continuing to “pop” up.  The little things such as the details of my conversation with my best friend the following day. We were young girls and it was 1971.  The awareness was not the same as today.  Our parents were of a generation that didn’t discuss these issues.  Tom Bolton was so easy to talk to.  I spoke of some very personal details in regards to that night that I have never talked about before, even with my most current ex husband of ten years.  For the first time this week I told my grown children about that horrible night.  I don’t blame any bad choices I have made in my life on that night alone, but I do see how it has contributed to the way I deal with normal relationship issues in some negative ways. I would like to see little girls and boys have a place to go…someone to talk to…a non-threatening resource that becomes part of the sex education curriculum that has been in place since I was in elementary school.  Thank You Tom and Joyce,  Amy

» on 04.30.13 @ 05:24 PM

To Amy: I wish you well in your healing process.  I was a neighbor of yours on the next street.  You and “A” used to come by to talk and play with my little ones.  Maybe my piano and music was the draw for you. Yes, in those days,1971, there was no openness about sexual abuse.

One time, one time only, I used “A” to babysit for my children.  Maybe you were there too. But my oldest told me that others had been there and funny things went on, and they did not want to have her babysit ever again.

The Karsais had a pool so there was much activity there, and yes, it was a lax home. Perhaps because the mother did not have much English. And the father was gone most of the time, a big rig driver.

One day “A” came to tell me her father was leaving them and divorcing. I asked what happened, and she said her father got angry because there was too much salt in the food one evening.That was how things were explained in those days.  Sad. Disfunctions and dissensions were covered up and not spoken of.

Even the boys in the neighborhood were scared of Tibor, saying he was strange and a bully. They would see him on the bikepath dressed as a woman, they said. And they would avoid him.

Tibor’s attack in the trailer in Goleta was vicious, and involved knifing, as I recall. The family moved after that attack was made known to the community.

I have never forgotten about that family, nor Tibor’s actions, nor wondering what really happened that upset my children, though they just said funny things were going on. Thank the Lord that I had taught them enough to tell me anything and everything that bothered them, even though still young.

Now, of course, education and awareness hopefully will make it easier for a child or young adult to talk about what makes them uncomfortable.  But predators are scary, bold and threatening. The secrets must be made known. Even now, that is hard for a frightened person, child or teen, or an adult.

The statistics for rehabilitation are dramatic.  Tibor is not rehabilitated, and never will be. Given a chance, he will attack again.

And Amy, please do not think of yourself as a victim now.  You were victimized, yes, and your personal life suffered from that, but you are on the right track to healing. To see yourself as a worthy person and be proud of your accomplishments. Your story will help, hopefully, many others to awareness and caution. Coming forth with your story is a major accomplishment.

» on 05.01.13 @ 02:33 PM

Thank you for your encouraging remarks..Yes, I have lived a very full life and don’t waste time dwelling on the negative.
I do have to say that my friend, the sister of ted was and I’m sure still is a beautiful, kind woman and mother.
I never knew her to do anything outside of any normal teenage girl and Hope that others do not assume that any of Ted’s siblings are of the same mind-set as he is. I wasn’t at your home the night that my best friend babysat, but I can’t imagine, knowing her that she would do anything damaging..
Thank You again.  Amy

» on 05.01.13 @ 05:39 PM

True, I hope that nobody makes a bad connection of the other family members either.  My oldest son,, then only about eight years did not say anything bad about your friend, but just said that others came in. And he was uncomfortable about that. I never said anything to anyone about this, nor to your friend. We just chose then to go places that we could take the children.

The point of this is that hopefully parents will listen to their children,  and that there is a family relationship strong enough for children to confide in a parent or both parents.  Hopefully in this age, there is more awareness.

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