Nov 16, 2011 1:48 AM by Ariel Wesler

City leaders pass local law to try and keep out sexually violent predator

Leaders in Santa Maria have passed a local law, taking emergency action as they try to stop a sexually-violent predator from moving into their city.

Both the city attorney and the Santa Barbara County District Attorney are fighting a Placer County judge's decision to allow 58-year-old Tibor Karsai to live in Santa Maria.

Karsai was sentenced to 26 years in prison for rape and false imprisonment in 1980 in Placer County.

He has been in state prisons and a mental hospital since 1980, but is supposed to get out of a mental hospital in Coalinga in December and be allowed to move back with family in Santa Maria.

"Fear will kill somebody."

With tears in her eyes Cassandra Sigala pleaded with city leaders to do all they can to keep 58-year-old Tibor Karsai, a sexually violent predator, out of Santa Maria.

"I will do whatever it takes to not let that violent person come to this town. Whatever it takes, I will do it. I just know what it's like," Sigala said.

Cassandra says she was molested by her uncle as a young child and he's being released from custody on Monday. Cassandra's mom says her daughter wasn't the only victim.

"He's violated three children in our family in the course of over 20 years," said Sandra Sigala.

The new city law means no new sex offenders in Santa Maria could live within a 2000 foot radius of a park or school. In this case, it's Liberty Elementary.

"This would adversely affect the safety of children and the perceived safety of children," said Liberty Elementary School Principal Dr. Jamie LeBlanc.

The local law takes effect immediately, but it's only the first stp in putting pressure on the Placer County judge to change his decision.

"There are already discussions about a letter writing campaign, petitions, sending out mass emails to the judge, whatever it is we can do," said Terri Zuniga, who lives in Santa Maria.

"This is our community. This is my community and I do not want this person coming to my community," Sandra Sigala said.

According to city attorney Gil Trujillo, the judge believes Karsai no longer poses a threat. A tough thing for Cassandra and her family to believe.

"Just knowing someone that dangerous lives here, we're gonna be in fear," she said.

City leaders talked about possibly going further with the 2000 foot rule, having it apply to daycare and community centers. Councilmembers urge you to call city hall for the address of where you can send petition letters.

Both city and county officials plan to travel to Placer County in person to plead their case. The judge is expected to make his final decision on December 5th.

» There are multiple updates to this story. Please click here to get the latest information.

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