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Bill Macfadyen: New Chapter in Tibor Karsai Rape Story One of Tragedy and Triumph

NoozWeek's Top 5 includes a lawsuit over the 'Deltopia' balcony collapse, a head-on collision in Los Olivos, a Goleta RV fire and a rollover wreck on De la Vina Street of all places

What were you reading on Noozhawk this past week?

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

Tibor Karsai is a monster, a sexually violent predator convicted of the vicious rapes of a 19-year-old Santa Barbara woman and a 16-year-old Placer County girl. He served his time — in prison and in a state mental institution — and a Placer County judge decided he was sufficiently rehabilitated to be released back in Santa Barbara County where he grew up. District Attorney Joyce Dudley didn’t agree, but the state Supreme Court had no objection.

The Megan’s Law website describes sexually violent predator Tibor 'Ted' Karsai as 5-foot-10-inches tall and 174 pounds, with brown hair and brown eyes.
The Megan’s Law website describes sexually violent predator Tibor “Ted” Karsai as 5-foot-10-inches tall and 174 pounds, with brown hair and brown eyes.

For more than a year, as Dudley fought a gallant but losing battle in the courts, Noozhawk executive editor Tom Bolton was following the twists and turns of this tragic and infuriating case. In February, he was able to track down the mother of the young woman Karsai attacked in 1973 after following her home from a trailer park laundromat on Outer State Street. Tom’s interview turned into an amazing story. The mom, now in her 70s and still heartbroken over her daughter’s 1985 suicide, exhibited strength and candor that are truly inspiring. Readers made it one of our top stories that month.

A few weeks ago, just before Karsai’s April 15 arrival here, Tom got a tip that a third victim — previously unknown to anyone — had come forward to report that Karsai had raped her, in 1971 when she was just 13 years old. The now 54-year-old woman wasn’t easy to find and she conducted her own due diligence on Tom before agreeing to talk. But their bond was immediate and, over the course of several hours, she quietly and forthrightly shared her secret. With every word, more and more of a 40-year burden slipped from her shoulders.

To call this woman a survivor does not do her justice. She’s a warrior.

It’s not just the rape, which she says occurred during a New Year’s Eve sleepover with her best friend, Karsai’s sister. It’s not a dysfunctional family life. It’s not four decades of loss, longing and searching as she buried — subconsciously or not — the cascade of unfortunate circumstances that engulfed her childhood. She laid it all out for us and you’ll just have to take my word for it that we haven’t told you the half of it.

“It took me a lot of years to figure out that it had a major effect on how I lived my life,” she told Tom.

And in spite of her challenges, she certainly has persevered. She has her children, now all adults. She went to college. She’s had a career. She owns her own business.

But in confronting her past, the woman — for the first time — has realized she is facing her future with a sense of purpose.

“When I saw the last article, that he (Karsai) 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.”

Later, she posted her own comment on the article:

“The best therapy is being able to tell my story,” she wrote. “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.”

This woman, and the mother of the woman raped two years later, deserve to have their stories told, and there is no one better than Tom Bolton to do it. Thank you for making it Noozhawk’s top story this week.

Partygoers work to lift a balcony off people who were injured when the wooden porch collapsed on them during the April 6 'Deltopia' street party in Isla Vista. UC Santa Barbara senior Stephanie Grace suffered a broken pelvis in the incident and has filed a lawsuit against the property’s owners and managers. (Robert Clayton photo)
Partygoers work to lift a balcony off people who were injured when the wooden porch collapsed on them during the April 6 “Deltopia” street party in Isla Vista. UC Santa Barbara senior Stephanie Grace suffered a broken pelvis in the incident and has filed a lawsuit against the property’s owners and managers. (Robert Clayton photo)

2. UCSB Student Hurt in Isla Vista Balcony Collapse Files Lawsuit

A UC Santa Barbara student who was seriously injured when a frat house balcony collapsed on top of her during the “Deltopia” street party in Isla Vista has filed a lawsuit against the property’s manager and owner.

Stephanie Grace, 21, of Los Angeles, fractured her pelvis when the balcony, which was crammed with an estimated 20 people at the time, collapsed and fell on her and dozens of other partygoers. Authorities say Grace and at least three other people were seriously injured in the April 6 incident.

The lawsuit, filed in Santa Barbara County Superior Court, alleges that the property manager, Wolfe & Associates, and the building’s owner, the Elliott Family Trust, were negligent in caring for the property at 6643 Del Playa Drive. The suit says the Beta Theta Pi fraternity house had long-standing problems with termites and wood rot in the balcony, but the defendants did nothing to fix the problem.

“It is clear the owners knew there was a problem,” Grace’s attorney, Robert Clayton of Taylor & Ring LLP, told Noozhawk’s Lara Cooper on May 1. “It wasn’t a question of if, but when.”

Clayton said Grace, a senior, already has piled up more than $25,000 in medical bills.

“She’s still in a lot of pain and using crutches,” he said. “At the end of the day, we just want her to be taken care of.”

3. Four Injured in Highway 154 Head-On Crash in Los Olivos

A head-on collision on Highway 154 near Dunn School in Los Olivos left four people injured on the afternoon of April 27.

Santa Barbara County fire Engineer Paul Christensen said two people were taken by ambulance to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital with “moderate injuries” and the other two were transported to Santa Ynez Valley Cottage Hospital in Solvang.

The cause of the crash is under investigation. No further details were available.

Things could have been worse. (Tom Bolton / Noozhawk photo)
Things could have been worse. (Tom Bolton / Noozhawk photo)

4. RV Destroyed by Fire at Goleta Home

An RV caught fire in the driveway of a Goleta home but a quick response by Santa Barbara County firefighters kept the flames from spreading to the house. There were no injuries in the blaze, which destroyed the vehicle.

The fire was reported just after 10 a.m. April 26 in the 100 block of Kamala Way, near North La Patera Lane. Fire Capt. David Neels said a fire engine happened to be in the neighborhood when the 9-1-1 call came in and the crew was on the scene right away. The RV was engulfed in flames when firefighters arrived, but they quickly had the fire out.

Neels said someone had been sleeping in the RV but was not there at the time. The cause of the fire is under investigation.

The driver of this car had her day turned upside down but escaped the wreck with only minor injuries. (John Palminteri / KEYT News photo)
The driver of this car had her day turned upside down but escaped the wreck with only minor injuries. (John Palminteri / KEYT News photo)

5. Woman Injured in Rollover Crash in Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara police investigating a rollover accident on De la Vina Street say the driver fell asleep at the wheel and collided with a parked van, flipping her own car in the process.

The driver, a 39-year-old woman whose name was not released, was transported to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital with minor injuries from the wreck, which happened about 10 a.m. April 29 in the 1600 block of De la Vina Street south of West Valerio Street.

Sgt. Riley Harwood, a department spokesman, said the woman was able to crawl out of her car, a Kia Spectra.

The cause of the crash is under investigation, and Harwood said the woman did not have a driver’s license.

                                                                  •        •        •

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— Bill Macfadyen is Noozhawk’s founder and publisher. Contact him at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address), follow him on Twitter: @noozhawk, or click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

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