Kern County District Attorney Cynthia Zimmer announced a conviction in a 2018 incident in which a man set fire to his home where his pregnant tenant lived after she rejected his sexual advances and he committed sexual battery against her.
According to a news release from the DA's office, Daniel Moler, 57, was found guilty Wednesday of arson of an inhabited structure with the use of an accelerant, sexual battery and criminal threats.
Sentencing is set for Nov. 4 at 8:30 a.m. before Judge John Oglesby. Due to Moler’s prior convictions, which include attempted murder, arson and escape from custody causing great bodily injury, he faces a potential sentence in excess of 25 years to life in prison, according to the news release.
“The work by the Kern County Sheriff’s Office and the County Fire Department’s Arson Unit in this case was essential to bringing this three-strike offender to justice,” Zimmer said. “Unsatisfied that he couldn’t take advantage of a woman half his age, this defendant literally lit the house she was in on fire.
“This case is a reminder of why we need to have laws that appropriately punish criminals who refuse to stop committing dangerous and violent crimes.”
On the night of March 13, 2018, Moler repeatedly went into a room in his east Bakersfield home that he rented to a 24-year-old pregnant tenant and sexually harassed her over a period of three hours, according to the DA’s office. Despite her rejection Moler touched private areas of her body, exposed himself and offered her money to touch him.
After Moler’s wife kicked him out of the house he poured charcoal lighter fluid in his bedroom, lit it on fire and fled. The tenant was inside her room unaware the house was on fire until Moler’s wife, who had been next door, returned home and alerted her. They were both able to escape without injury, the DA’s office said.
When Moler was arrested two days later, investigators observed the hairs on the back of his hands had burned off, the news release stated. Investigators also determined that Moler’s claims that the fire was accidental and that he encouraged his wife to call 911 to report the fire were false.