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Alleged Library Masturbator Pleads Not Guilty to Indecent Exposure

Robert Bruce Engel was identified by one of the teenage witnesses to last week's incident.

Robert Bruce Engel, the man who allegedly masturbated at the Rancho Santa Mararita Library and was arrested exactly one week later—at the library—pleaded not guilty Wednesday.

Engel, 67, was charged with one count of felony indecent exposure with prior convictions. According to Orange County district attorney's office, he pleaded guilty previously to three charges and was convicted on a fourth charge.

If convicted this time, the Mission Viejo man faces a maximum of three years in state prison.

He is being held on $20,000 bail and is scheduled for a pretrial hearing May 26 at Harbor Justice Center in Newport Beach.

According to the D.A., Engel sat on a bench inside the library across from three teenage girls May 9, placed a newspaper across his lap, and then masturbated underneath the newspaper.

The girls reported the incident to the librarian, but, authorities said, Engel left before deputies could arrive. They searched the neighborhood but could not locate him.

On Monday, authorities said, Engel was again at the library when he was recognized by the librarian. Sheriff's deputies found him in the back of the library reading a newspaper. While he was detained, a 15-year-old girl who witnessed the incident a week earlier was brought to the library and identified him as the man she had seen.

According to police reports, Engel felt he was having a cardiac event while being detained, and he was taken to Mission Hospital by ambulance; police followed. He was then taken to Central Men's Jail in Santa Ana.

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