Within the next two weeks, a repeat rapist who has been designated a “sexually violent predator” will leave a state mental hospital and be released in Santa Barbara County as a transient.
But finding out when, where and under what conditions Tibor Karsai will be set free is proving to be a daunting task.
Karsai, 59, was convicted in 1974 in Santa Barbara of forcibly raping a 19_year-old woman, 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.
Karsai then was transferred to a state mental hospital, where he was designated as a sexually violent predator.
After a lengthy legal battle, a Placer County Superior Court judge earlier this year ordered that Karsai be conditionally released as a “transient” in Santa Barbara County “on or before April 18,” and the state Supreme Court last month declined to take up Santa Barbara County’s challenge, according to the Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s Office.
Karsai, who has family in Santa Maria, will be under the supervision of Liberty Healthcare Group, a private company that contracts with the State of California to provide supervision for people released from prison and mental hospitals.
Contacted for details about Karsai’s release, a Liberty Healthcare representative referred all questions to Ralph Montano, a spokesman for the state Department of State Hospitals in Sacramento.
Montano in turn said that federal and state medical privacy laws prevent him from disclosing details about a sexually violent predator who has been held at a state mental hospital, including when and where he will be released.
He did answer general questions about the release of sexually violent predators.
“All conditionally released sexually violent predators receive an intensive regimen of treatment and supervision that includes at least weekly individual contact by supervision staff, specialized sex-offender treatment, weekly drug screening, surveillance, polygraph examinations, and active Global Positioning System tracking,” Montano said.
When asked what it means when a sexually violent predator is released as a “transient,” Montanto said it “means released without a fixed address.”
He did not elaborate when asked whether someone like Karsai would be housed in a motel, in a trailer or RV, or would simply be living on the streets.
“Previous court-ordered transient releases have involved a number of different methods for living arrangements,” Montano said. “Any proposed living arrangements must be approved by the court.”
On the question of whether the released predator would be in one location or moved around, Montanto said only that any changes in the living circumstances would have to be approved by the court.
There have been two previous cases in which sexually violent predators have been released as transients, Montano said, one in Santa Barbara County in November 2007 and one in Ventura County.
In both cases, he said, those released eventually found fixed address, but he could not provide details about those cases.
Once released, sexually violent predators are required to register every 90 days with the chief of police in the community in which they are living, according to the Department of State Hospitals website.
Their whereabouts also can be tracked using the Megan’s Law website, Montano noted.
As of Thursday, the Megan’s Law website still listed Karsai as “incarcerated.”
Santa Maria Police Chief Ralph Martin said Thursday that his department still doesn’t know where Karsai will be released.
“He has to have a permanent residence to be registered as a High Serious Sex Offender in the Megan’s Law computer,” Martin said, “so we’re kind of on hold.
“Although his mother lives in Santa Maria, he either can’t stay there or his mom won’t take him.”
The state will be paying most of Karsai’s living costs, according to Montano.
“In general terms, treatment, housing and supervision costs for sexually violent predators conditionally released by court order into the community are provided by DSH,” Montano said. “Conditionally released sexually violent predators are expected to be self-supporting with regard to food, clothing and personal expenses.
“Until such time as the person is self-supporting, funds are available as a loan which must be repaid.”