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Registered sex offender tried in O.C. over indecent exposure

October 3, 2012 |  4:05 pm

EngelA registered sex offender accused of masturbating in front of two teenage girls at a Rancho Santa Margarita public library went to trial Wednesday.

Robert Bruce Engel, 68,  is charged with one felony count of indecent exposure with prior convictions for the same crime, according to Susan Kang Schroeder, chief of staff for the Orange County district attorney’s office.

If convicted, Engel faces a maximum sentence of three years in state prison.

"The charge of indecent exposure ... is usually a misdemeanor," Schroeder said. "But prior convictions make it a felony."

Authorities allege that the Mission Viejo man went to the library on May 9 at 7 p.m., sat  at a table across from two teenage girls and began masturbating.

The victims reported Engel to the librarian but the defendant fled before police arrived, authorities allege. He is accused of returning to the same library May 16 and was arrested there after the librarian recognized him and called the Orange County Sheriff's Department.

Schroeder said Engel was convicted in 1999 and 2002 of indecent exposure involving adults.

"Unfortunately, there are people who are engaged in chronic indecent exposure," she said. "It’s a crime that shocks people."


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--Teresa Watanabe

Photo: Robert Bruce Engel. Credit: KTLA-TV, Channel 5