A Sex Offender Who Evaded the System

Michael Dodd, a registered sex offender in Florida, got lost in the system.

ByABC News
April 8, 2010, 1:12 PM

April 8, 2010— -- Convicted sex offender Michael Dodd could face up to 30 more years in prison if convicted on new charges of traveling abroad to have sex with a minor.

In February, the FBI arrested Dodd and returned him to the U.S. from Cambodia, where he was serving time after being convicted of having sexual relations with a teenager.

He is being held without bail in Los Angeles.

Before he was arrested earlier this year, we met Dodd, 61, in the Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh, where he was accused of attempting to arrange a marriage to a 14-year-old girl. At the time, Dodd was still on parole for abusing children in America, but got lost in the system.

Recent headlines have been dominated by allegations of law enforcement and parole lapses in cases of convicted sex offenders, from Phillip Garrido, who was accused of holding Jaycee Dugard captive in his backyard for 18 years, to John Gardner, another paroled sex offender who was accused of raping and killing California high school student Chelsea King.

The Michael Dodd case provides a blow-by-blow example of how easy it is for a convicted child sex offender to simply slip through the cracks, especially overseas.

We traced Dodd's path from the suburbs of Orlando to upstate New York to Cambodia, which has long been a top destination for pedophiles from the United States and all over the world, according to law enforcement officials and humanitarian groups.

But Dodd's story began in 2001 on the island of Saipan, part of the U.S. Commenwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, where he worked as a reading evaluator at an elementary school, and was arrested and convicted for abusing students.

Dodd "basically took advantage of an opportunity when he was testing these children on their reading. They would be alone together in a classroom and the child would be reading and that's [the] time when he molested them," said Kevin Lynch, who prosecuted Dodd for abusing students. "It was obvious from the get go that it was a very serious case."

Eighteen children -- all first and third-graders -- came forward, including Jesus Sablan's seven-year-old daughter. She told her mother that Dodd put his hand down her shirt.

"I was boiling mad when I heard that from my daughter," Sablan said. "I just felt at that time like going over and finding that guy and ringing his neck out. That's how mad I was."

In an eerie hand-written confession obtained by "Nightline," Dodd tried to explain his abuse, blaming it on everything from lack of affordable local restaurants to the incompetence of the local cable television company.

In April 2002, Dodd pleaded guilty to molesting five children and got a 10- year sentence. But in May 2006, after less than five years behind bars, Dodd went before the parole board for a third time and they voted to let him go.

"I cannot read the individual's mind," said Ramon Camacho, chairman of the parole board of the Northern Mariana Islands.

Camacho said he thought Dodd would be safe in the community.