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Local News

State Supreme Court Blocks Release of Sexual Predator

Santa Barbara County prosecutors say appeals court erred in decision involving convicted rapist Tibor Karsai

The California Supreme Court has halted the release of a convicted sexual predator to Santa Barbara County, at least for now.

Santa Barbara County District Attorney Joyce Dudley announced Monday that the Supreme Court has issued a stay on the previous order to release Tibor Karsai in the county.

Karsai was convicted in 1974 in Santa Barbara of forcible rape, and was paroled three years later to San Luis Obispo. He 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.

Last month, 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.

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 told Noozhawk earlier this month, 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 granted by the Court of Appeal, but that court eventually denied Dudley’s request.

The California Supreme Court stayed the appeals order pending further review, and has up to 60 days to decide whether to grant review of the case.

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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