San Luis Obispo County could be home to paroled Auburn rapist

Tibor Karsai has been in prison since conviction for 1980 Auburn bowling-alley rape
By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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AUBURN - Convicted of raping a 16-year-old girl in Auburn 32 years ago and in state prison since then, Tibor Karsai could be headed for San Luis Obispo County after his release on parole. Judge James Garbolino ruled Monday in Auburn that Liberty Healthcare could start work to locate Karsai at a temporary housing site in a mobile home on a pad that sits next to a San Luis Obispo Sheriff’s Office facility. Garbolino said that Liberty had reviewed 1,830 properties, including 230 since Karsai’s last hearing in early December, “without any substantial success.” Liberty’s latest effort included a recommendation to have Karsai relocated in either Sacramento or Placer counties. But Placer County Public Defender Ken Hahus’ objection led to Garbolino’s decision to attempt to place Karsai adjacent to the Southern California sheriff’s facility. Hahus said he didn’t know the exact location or which sheriff’s facility would hold a potential home for Karsai but he said he wouldn’t be surprised if San Luis Obispo County raised objections to the use of the site. Liberty is contracted by the state Department of Mental Health to manage all released sexually violent predators. San Luis Obispo County would provide Karsai with a better chance of moving successfully back into society, with familiar family and connections to his past life, Hahus said. “Here he has no resources, no one,” Hahus said. Santa Barbara County had fought a potential placement in its jurisdiction, arguing that the targeted domicile was closer than a 2,000-foot radius to an elementary school and a community park. Prosecutors had traveled four times to the Placer County Courthouse to argue that San Luis Obispo County was Karsai’s correct and legal domicile. The placement was going to be at Karsai’s mother’s house in Santa Maria. The Auburn rape took place in February 1980. Karsai was working as a long-haul truck driver at the time of the attack. Court records show he was convicted of exposing himself to the teenage girl inside the Foothills Bowl bowling alley, physically overpowering her and then forcing her into the isolation of a closed stall in the men’s bathroom. As the attack went on, Karsai continually threatened the girl, according to appeals court record. Karsai, 59, was convicted by a Placer County jury of rape and oral copulation by force, which resulted in a 16-year sentence. He was on parole at the time for a 1974 forcible rape conviction and sentenced to another 10 years for violating the terms of his release. Placer County authorities were able to successfully file a court petition in 1998 to keep Karsai in custody as a sexually violent predator. But five years ago, a hung jury on keeping Karsai incarcerated led to a decision allowing him out of custody through a conditional release program.