Arcata Pastor Pleads Not Guilty, Resigns; Judge Grants Protective Order

By Thadeus Greenson
Contra Costa Times
September 16, 2010

Arcata pastor Dino Cardelli pleaded not guilty to four felony charges of child molestation in Humboldt County Superior Court Tuesday and resigned his position with the church he helped open 15 years ago.

Cardelli, a 49-year-old McKinleyville man who started Calvary Chapel of Arcata, was arrested late Thursday afternoon by Humboldt County Sheriff's deputies after the agency received a report from an official at the school of the alleged victim in the case.

Tuesday, he appeared in court in an orange jumpsuit with his hands shackled before him and pleaded not guilty to a total of four felony counts, including committing the recurring sexual abuse of a child under the age of 14, one count of committing lewd and lascivious acts with a minor and two counts of oral copulation with a minor. He remains held in the Humboldt County jail on $750,000 bail.

About an hour after Cardelli appeared in court, the church released a statement to the media indicating it had accepted his resignation.

”We, the trustees and the Board Members of Calvary Chapel of Arcata are in continual prayer for both Mr. Dino Cardelli and the members of his family,” the statement said. “The board of trustees has accepted the resignation of Mr. Cardelli, and any further inquiries concerning him should be directed to the Humboldt County Sheriff's Department and/or the Humboldt County District Attorney's Office.”

In court Tuesday, Humboldt County Deputy District

Attorney Kelly Neel asked the court to issue a protective order in the case. Mark Bruce, who made a special appearance Tuesday as Cardelli's attorney, opposed the protective order, pointing out that it would forbid Cardelli from contacting any of his minor children, as well as the alleged victim in the case.

Humboldt County Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Brenda Godsey said detectives believe there to be only one victim in the case.

Bruce told the court that he's been told all Cardelli's minor children have been removed from the home at this point, and sent to live with relatives.

Neel argued that, given the nature of the crimes and that they are alleged to have occurred in the home, the protective order should be granted.

”The people think it's warranted,” Neel said.

Humboldt County Superior Court Judge Dale Reinholtsen agreed and signed the order during Tuesday's hearing.

Bruce also made a motion to dismiss the charges facing Cardelli, arguing that his client was denied his right to a speedy arraignment. Reinholtsen denied the motion.

Bruce did not return a call seeking comment on the case by deadline.

According to the Calvary Chapel website, Cardelli graduated from the Calvary Chapel Bible College and finished his ministry responsibilities in Southern California's Lake Arrowhead before moving to Humboldt County with his wife, Nancy, to open a chapel in Arcata. Calvary Chapel of Arcata's first Sunday service was given in January 1995, according to the website.

Nancy Cardelli died in March, according to Humboldt County Coroner Dave Parris.

Reinholtsen scheduled a preliminary hearing -- a kind of mini-trial held to determine if there is enough evidence to hold a defendant to stand trial -- for Sept. 24.

Thadeus Greenson can be reached at 441-0509 or


Any original material on these pages is copyright © 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.