We don't just cover the North Bay. We live here.
Did You Know? In the first 10 days of the North Bay fire, nearly 1.5 million people used their mobile devices to visit our sites.
Already a subscriber?
Wow! You read a lot!
Reading enhances confidence, empathy, decision-making, and overall life satisfaction. Keep it up! Subscribe.
Already a subscriber?
Oops, you're out of free articles.
Until next month, you can always look over someone's shoulder at the coffee shop.
Already a subscriber?
We don't just cover the North Bay. We live here.
Did You Know? In the first 10 days of the North Bay fire, we posted 390 stories about the fire. And they were shared nearly 137,000 times.
Already a subscriber?
Supporting the community that supports us.
Obviously you value quality local journalism. Thank you.
Already a subscriber?
Oops, you're out of free articles.
We miss you already! (Subscriptions start at just 99 cents.)
Already a subscriber?

LAKEPORT -- Michael Dodele served nearly 20 years in prison for the sexual assault of a Santa Rosa woman before he won his freedom two months ago and quietly moved to a mobile home park on the shores of Clear Lake to begin a new life.

Only 35 days later, Dodele was stabbed to death, allegedly by a neighbor who believed the 68-year-old convicted rapist was a child molester because of a confusing posting on an official Web registry for state sex offenders.

Dodele's killing could be the first to result from the state's three-year-old Megan's Law online listing of registered sex offenders.

Dodele's accused killer, a 29-year-old neighbor named Ivan Garcia Oliver, was quoted Monday in the Los Angeles Times as saying he acted to protect a son who had been molested by another person in the past.

The jailhouse interview came last week and followed the Nov. 20 slaying. Oliver pleaded not guilty to murder charges Nov. 30 in Lake County Superior Court.

In addition, a Napa psychologist who testified on Dodele's behalf in earlier court proceedings said Monday she had been told the same by Oliver's wife.

"She told me they believed he (Dodele) had been convicted of having sex with a minor," psychologist Charlotte Steen said.

Steen blamed a state Justice Department Web site for confusing Dodele's criminal record, and creating the possibility that it may have led to his death. Now removed, the listing described Dodele's offenses as "rape by force" and "oral copulation with a person under 14 or by force." State criminal codes blend the two, but in fact Dodele's crimes were against adult women and not children.

To Steen, that's a major distinction.

"Sexual offenders in general are scorned, but especially those who target children," Steen said.

Dodele had received extensive treatment at a state hospital for his behavior. Steen said she believed the treatment, together with his age, meant he would not rape again.

"Mr. Dodele served his time, and he was ready to get on with his life," Steen said.

Lake County District Attorney Jon Hopkins confirmed that state records show Dodele had never been convicted of having sex with minors. Hopkins declined, however, to speculate on what role if any the confusing state listing might have played in his death.

"We're going to try this case in a courtroom, and not in the media," Hopkins said.

Bruce Laning, Oliver's court-appointed attorney, said Monday he was aghast that his client had granted a jailhouse interview with a newspaper without his knowledge, and had made potentially incriminating statements.

"In my 30 years of law, I've never heard of such a thing," said Laning, a contract public defender for Lake County. Laning declined Monday to discuss specifics of the pending murder case, or Oliver's own criminal background.

Oliver did not admit to the crime, according to the Los Angeles Times article, but said he took the action to protect a son.

"Society may see the action I took as unacceptable in the eyes of 'normal' people.

"I felt that by not taking evasive action as a father in the right direction, I might as well have taken my child to some swamp filled with alligators and had them tear him to pieces," Oliver told the Times. "It's no different."

In addition to facing murder, burglary and elder abuse charges in connection with Dodele's death, Oliver is under federal indictment in San Diego County for allegedly dumping hazardous waste into a creek. Oliver was indicted by a federal grand jury a week after his Lake County arrest.

According to the five-page indictment, Oliver and another man dumped five 55-gallon drums of paint containing Toluene, a chemical known to cause various health problems, into Slaughterhouse Canyon Creek in El Cajon in March 2005. They dumped the paint because it was less expensive than proper disposal methods and told authorities the spill was an accident, according to the indictment.

Oliver subsequently moved to Lake County.

He was on parole at the time of his arrest, after having served a state prison term for assault with force causing great bodily injury, according to law enforcement records.

Oliver lived about a dozen spaces from Dodele in the mobile home park, which is located along Lakeshore Boulevard north of Lakeport. Among those living there are the elderly, disabled and some Spanish-speaking residents. The Oliver family's unit appeared Monday to be cleared of any belongings.

Helen Spencer, an 84-year-old neighbor of Dodele, said he was a "nice, kind-hearted and compassionate man."

"I didn't know any of this stuff (Dodele's sex convictions), but I believe in rehabilitation and if our laws say he's OK living here, that's OK," Spencer said.

Another neighbor said Oliver had once described Dodele as an "ex-pedophile" and had expressed concern about his living in the park.

Dodele had lived in Novato and Petaluma before being sent to prison in 1988 for raping a woman on an isolated beach north of Jenner. At the time, he also was known as Michael Anthony Salta.

Ten years before that conviction, Dodele had been declared a mentally disordered sex offender and sent to Atascadero State Hospital after admitting to raping five women at secluded beaches in San Mateo County.

Despite his background, psychologist Steen said Dodele no longer posed a threat as a convicted rapist.

Steen said despite public fears about child molesters, the majority are known by victims or are members of their families.

"Mr. Dodele was not among them," Steen said, "and that's what's so tragic about this."

Staff Writer Laura Norton and news research Michelle Van Hoeck contributed to this story. You can reach Staff Writer Mike Geniella at 462-6470 or mgeniella@pressdemocrat.com.

Show Comment