Updated with interview from lead prosecutor and a neighbor.
A Mission Viejo man was found guilty Thursday of fondling himself in front of two teenage girls at the Rancho Santa Margarita Library. The trial lasted two days.
Last year in May, Robert Bruce Engel, 68, put a newspaper across his lap at the library, unzipped his pants and masturbated while sitting across from the girls.
Their testimony led to his conviction, said prosecutor Bobby Taghavi.
- Read about the arrest here.
"What those two girls did was pretty courageous," he said. "For them to have to deal with this case for 18 months, it just shows that it does pay off when you do a good deed and make sure the community is protected."
Taghavi said it's important for witnesses to come forward in such cases.
"When you do witness something like this, you should tell someone," the prosecutor said. "Unfortunately we have a lot of people who don’t report this. They’re not quite sure how serious this is."
After hearing the girls' testimony, Judge Craig Griffin pronounced Engel guilty of one count of indecent exposure. Engel had waived his right to a trial by jury.
Engel faces a maximum sentence of three years, according to prosecutors. He is scheduled to be sentenced Nov. 15 at Harbor Justice Center in Newport Beach.
Engel is a registered sex offender, according to the D.A., but a search for his name on California's Megan's Law website didn't yield any results.
In 2002, Engel was found guilty of indecent exposure in Laguna Niguel and sentenced to three years in state prison.
He was also charged with a misdemeanor failure to provide registration information in February. Engel pleaded not guilty in that case, which is scheduled for trial on Oct. 25.
Mike Lynch, Engel's neighbor, was glad to see him convicted.
"Justice is served," he said. "Crimes against children are the most vile. Hopefully Engel will spend a long time in prison. Mission Viejo is a lot safer with him off the streets."