The release of a convicted rapist into Santa Barbara County is on hold after the California Supreme Court delayed an order to let him go. The state’s high court, responding to an appeal from the Santa Barbara DA’s Office, temporarily halted the release of Tibor Karsai while the court decides whether to review the case. Such a procedure could take up to 60 days.
In March, a Placer County judge determined Karsai — a transient — should be released into Santa Barbara County because an area residence was his last known address. DA Joyce Dudley appealed after concluding “this extraordinary procedure [of appeal] was necessary to protect the residents of Santa Barbara County,” according to a release from her office. A state Court of Appeal denied Dudley’s request, and she’s now taken the matter to the Supreme Court.
Karsai, as a 22-year-old in 1974, was convicted of forcible rape in Santa Barbara. He was paroled three years later, and on a trip to Placer County committed a forcible sex crime there for which he received 26 years in state prison.
When he completed his prison term in 1998, the Placer County District Attorney filed a petition to have him remain in custody because of his sexually violent nature. The petition was granted, and he’s been behind bars ever since, with the Placer DA re-petitioning the court every two years to keep him in custody. Most recently, however, after a hung jury, the Placer DA agreed to let Karsai be released through a conditional release program, and a judge ordered he be placed in a home in Santa Maria.
The Santa Barbara DA’s Office has argued Karsai’s correct domicile county is actually San Luis Obispo, and that he be released there.