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Hans Jorgen Kardel, 84, listens to attorneys' opening arguments last Wednesday during his trial in Santa Maria Superior Court.

During the trial Tuesday for a Santa Maria businessman charged with molesting his two granddaughters, jurors heard an audio recording of a phone call during which the defendant admitted to touching his granddaughter's genitalia but blamed Satan for tempting him. 

Hans Jorgen Kardel, 84, is on trial in Judge John McGregor's Santa Maria courtroom, with Catherine Swysen representing Kardel, and Deputy District Attorney Fabiana Fede prosecuting the case. 

During proceedings Tuesday, Kardel's daughter (also the alleged victims' mother) testified, and recorded phone calls between she and Kardel were played for the jury. 

The girls' mother first testified that on Nov. 9, 2015, when she went to go pick up Doe 1, who is now 15, from school, her daughter mentioned that a Child Safe presentation that day had triggered her memories. 

"[Doe 1] said, 'I think I've been molested, and I think [Doe 2] has, too," the girls' mother testified. Later, the girls' mother picked up Doe 2, now 18, from basketball practice, when Doe 2 cried and told her mother it was Kardel who had molested her. 

Police were contacted and gave the girls' mother a recorder to get a possible confession from Kardel. During the third attempt to get the confession, Kardel began giving details, according to testimony Tuesday. 

"Nothing ever happened with [Doe 1], I can tell you," Kardel began in the recording. "She knew what was going on, but she was never a part of this. It was only [Doe 2.]" 

Kardel then told his daughter that Doe 2 kept coming onto him, and that "this was up to her and if she wanted to stop it, it would stop."

Kardel added that Doe 2 was the one "always coming onto him," to which his daughter argued he was the adult in the situation. Kardel also denied there was any sexual intercourse and further denied he ever touched Doe 2's sister, Doe 1. 

"It was just [Doe 2] and myself; it was like a consensual arrangement," Kardel said in the recording. "I shouldn't have complied. Yes, I was wrong." 

When confronted by his daughter about allegedly touching Doe 2's vagina, Kardel said, "Well, she took my hand down there, and that's what she wanted, so I did it." He also said "some months ago she stopped encouraging me, so I thought that it's all over now." 

"Dad, they're little girls," his daughter said, to which Kardel replied, "Well, they're a bit more mature than you think." 

Kardel then repeatedly apologized and expressed his remorse, stating that he prayed every day, and that "if this gets out, it'll ruin everybody, and I don't want to ruin our family."

"Every day I pray for forgiveness," Kardel told his daughter. "Satan's trying to bring me down because I did good work, and he's trying to make me look bad to everybody because I'm a good person."

Kardel continued, "I prayed to the Lord to punish me on judgment day but to not have this come out while I'm still alive because it'll hurt so many people."

Testimony resumes at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday at the Santa Maria Superior Court.

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


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