The trial for a retired Santa Maria businessman accused of molesting two young girls over the course of several years has been postponed due to scheduling conflicts and witness unavailability. 

Jury selection has been underway the last two weeks at the Santa Maria Superior Court for defendant Hans Jorgen Kardel, 84. However, the defense requested a postponement as their expert witness had become unavailable to testify, according to Deputy District Attorney Fabiana Fede.

Now, selection will have to start all over again, with parties returning to court Monday to pick new trial dates, Fede said.

Kardel is charged with sexual penetration with a child under the ages of 10 and 14, aggravated sexual assault of a minor; lewd and lascivious acts with a child under the age of 14, and attempting to dissuade a witness. 

Kardel also faces a special enhancement of allegedly committing the offenses with more than one child. Records indicate that both children were his relatives, and were under the age of 14 at the time of the alleged incidents, which reportedly began in 2005. 

Charges were filed by the Santa Barbara County District Attorney's Office in January 2016.

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Kardel pleaded not guilty to the felony charges in February 2016 and was held to stand trial last year after a probable cause hearing.

He served as president of the Hejls Minde branch of the Dania Lodge of Solvang this year but no longer owns the Santa Maria company he founded, Kardel Insurance Services Inc., which is currently under new management. 

Attorney Cathering Swysen is representing Kardel.

Gina Kim covers crime and courts for Santa Maria Times. Follow her on Twitter @gina_k210

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