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022118 hans kardel trial

Santa Maria businessman Hans Jorgen Kardel, 84, is pictured in this file photo taken Feb. 21 at the Santa Maria Superior Court, where he was convicted of molesting one of his granddaughters when she was under the age of 16. 

Santa Maria businessman Hans Kardel resumed his testimony Friday, when he denied ever touching either of his granddaughters and maintained it was his granddaughter who had initiated sexual contact, signaling him to follow her out of the house. 

Kardel, 84, is on trial at the Santa Maria Superior Court for allegedly molesting his two grandchildren when they were under the age of 16. 

The defendant's attorney Catherine Swysen began questioning him about the recorded phone calls that took place between he and his daughter (Jane Doe 1 and 2's mother) in late November 2015, about two weeks after she reported Kardel to the police. 

Kardel denied ever touching either of his granddaughters in a sexual manner and said he and Doe 2 were only alone in the storeroom next to his home two times during the summer of 2015.  

One day, when both were in the kitchen, Doe 2 signaled for Kardel to go to the storeroom with her, and he followed, Kardel testified.

He admitted he and Doe 2 would often tickle fight but claimed the tickling never went anywhere except the stomach area, neck or underarms. However, that day in the storeroom, Kardel testified, "she pushed my hand from her stomach, and mumbled something to the effect of, 'It feels good.'" 

Doe 2 then began moving his hand down further past her stomach "and that's when I pulled away and thought, 'This is wrong; I have to get out,'" he said. 

"I told her, 'You're the one who started it, so you stop it.' She's the one who would control it, and she could stop whenever she wanted," he testified. "I was terrified. I knew that there'd be some explaining to do if anyone were to see us." 

His hand never went under her clothes, Kardel claimed. 

Prosecutor Fabiana Fede then began her cross-examination, during which she focused on the pretext calls between Kardel and his daughter. 

"In the second phone call, your daughter tells you she's very upset about what her daughters told her, and she said, 'I can't believe you did this to my girls,' and your response was, 'Nothing ever happened with Doe 1; it was simply Doe 2, correct?" to which Kardel replied in the affirmative. 

When Fede pressed about his statement to his daughter about how Doe 1 knew Kardel was touching her sister, Kardel replied that he thought "she was referring to the times that I would tickle and wrestle with Doe 2," but nothing sexual. 

"During this call you said, 'I told Doe 2 many times that this was up to her?' Remember saying that?" Fede asked. 

"Yes, but in the context ... " Kardel began, to which Fede interrupted, "You said that 'she was always the one that approached me to go on with it?'"

"Yes," Kardel replied. 

"You also said she always put my hand [down there.] Do you remember saying that?" Fede pressed. 

"Yes," Kardel said. "I can explain these, too." 

Fede also asked Kardel when Doe 2 would "give him a signal," as he testified, to which he replied that it just happened one day, out of the blue. 

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"How did you know what that signal meant?" Fede pressed, to which Kardel said he didn't know what it meant.

Under Fede's questioning, Kardel also admitted telling the girls' mother that Doe 2 was the one who put his hand there, and "that's what she wanted so I did it." 

Referring to the conversation he had with his daughter, when Kardel told her that Doe 2 would "grab" his private area, and "that was a signal that she wanted something to happen," Fede asked if that's when he and Doe 2 would go to the storeroom.

"She never grabbed me," he replied. "She just wrapped her hands around it."

"But you just indicated you didn't know what the signal meant," Fede countered. 

"I didn't know what it meant the first time," replied Kardel. "There were two times. The first time, I didn't know. I thought it was an accident." 

Kardel also admitted telling his daughter that if any of this got out, 'a massive tragedy will occur to all of us,' under Fede's questioning. 

During Swysen's redirect, Kardel again maintained that he never touched either of his granddaughters. 

"I never put my finger in [their] vagina," Kardel said. "Disgusting. I never did that." 

Testimony resumes Tuesday afternoon at the Santa Maria Superior Court.

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