Did Megan’s Law Website Target Rapist for Murder?

ABA Journal, Martha Neil

One common argument against publicly listing home addresses and other identifying information for convicted sex criminals is that it might put them in danger. But proving such cause and effect in real-life cases is difficult, to say the least.

Now, however, officials in California say they might have the first-ever murder of a convicted sex criminal by a neighbor alerted to his presence by an Internet listing implemented by Megan's Law. Ironically, although the website implied that murder victim Michael Dodele, 67, was a child molester, in fact all of the convicted rapist's crimes were committed against adult women, reports the Los Angeles Times.

The man charged with Dodele's murder, a 29-year-old construction worker named Ivan Garcia Oliver, has pleaded not guilty to charges of first-degree murder, burglary and elder abuse. However, he said in a jailhouse interview last week that he has a son who had been previously molested, and hence took unspecified action to protect the boy.

"Society may see the action I took as unacceptable in the eyes of 'normal' people," Oliver said. "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. It's no different."

The Megan's Law website in California gives home addresses for some but not all persons listed.

As the website, which is maintained by the California attorney general's office, explains: "Megan's Law is named after 7-year-old Megan Kanka, a New Jersey girl who was raped and killed by a known child molester who had moved across the street from the family without their knowledge. In the wake of the tragedy, the Kankas sought to have local communities warned about sex offenders in the area. All states now have a form of Megan's Law."

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