For 19th Ward Ald. Matt O’Shea and scores of other residents in Beverly, Mt. Greenwood and Oak Lawn, the trial of Daniel Vorberg was personal.
The convicted fondler now awaits sentencing after a jury found him guilty of public indecency almost a year after he was arrested for masturbating in his car while watching a group of children play in Mt. Greenwood on April 30, 2013.
A Mt. Greenwood mom called out to her fiancé when she saw Vorberg in his car pleasuring himself near her daughter and friends. Her fiancé ran outside to the front of their house, and in his ten-second confrontation with Vorberg, was able to snap a picture with his cell phone of Vorberg’s BMW speeding away.
The photo, which showed a clear image of the car’s license plate number, led police to Vorberg the next day, where he was arrested outside of his Oak Lawn home.
O’Shea attended most of the two-day trial. On Tuesday, the first day of trial, the benches inside Room 107 at the Bridgeview Courthouse were filled with residents from Mt. Greenwood and Oak Lawn, where Vorberg had been acquitted after two trials of trying to lure three 11-year-old girls to his car in 2009.
“[Our office] goes to court for building violations or any type of criminal case,” O’Shea said. “This was personal. These crimes against children, our most vulnerable, when something like this happens we drop everything and it’s all hands on deck.”
Whether Associate Judge Stephen Connolly was aware there was a Chicago alderman sitting in his courtroom, O’Shea doesn’t know.
“I have to believe based on all of the P.R. we got, our office has been involved for the past 11 months, that everyone knew we were there in force,” O’Shea said. “Those preliminary hearings had as many residents from the Village of Oak Lawn as Beverly, neighbors who live near where the Vorberg family resides in Oak Lawn and people affected by his past criminal behavior.”
O’Shea says he thought of his own children during witness testimony, especially star witness Kelly Maloney, who was left in charge of several children that warm, spring afternoon of a year ago.
Kelly just happened to be looking out a second floor window to check on the playing children as she stepped away to go to bathroom, when something caught her eye. During court, Vorberg did not show any visible reaction when the state’s witnesses testified about his acts.
“You thought of your own children and how you’d react in that situation, looking out the window and the shock of seeing that,” he said. “It’s sad when children can’t play in front of their own home. We live in a community where kids play up and down the sidewalks and on the front lawn, and then this sick SOB comes along.”
O’Shea had to leave Wednesday afternoon before closing arguments, but he kept in close contact with volunteer court advocate, Sr. Patricia Maloney, while the jury was in deliberation.
He said he felt a host of emotions hearing of the guilty verdict.
“It was relief, it was excitement that this guy is finally going to get convicted,” the Chicago alderman said. “It was gratitude to 22nd District police, specifically the Area South Detective Division who worked so hard, and put many people on this case to make sure it was a solid case.”
O’Shea also praised Cook County Assistant State’s Attorney Tom Simpson for “the unbelievable job preparing this case and arguing it.”
He was especially thankful to Kelly Maloney, and her fiancé, John Gregus, the two adults who identified Vorberg in photo and physical lineups, and testified in court, seeing what they saw a year ago in front of their home on Spaulding Avenue, to the finish.
“It would have been real easy for Kelly to yell out the window and call 911 to give a brief description of the car, so Dan Vorberg could go find another group of children to victimize in our local communities,” O’Shea said. “Instead she yelled at John to go out there and track this predator down and deliver a strong case.”
Vorberg’s next court appearance is on May 12, when Judge Connolly is likely to render sentence. Vorberg’s attorney is also expected to file a motion for a new trial.
The Oak Lawn man faces up to three years in prison for one felony count of public indecency, because the crime took place within 500 feet of an elementary school. Court testimony gave the exact measurement between Vorberg's BMW and Cassell Elementary as 171 feet.
He has a lengthy arrest record dating back to 2001, including charges of retail theft, driving while under the influence, distributing inappropriate materials to a minor (the case was dropped when the witness did not show up in court), and the attempted child abductions in Oak Lawn.
Vorberg could also be given credit for time served in Cook County Jail, where he has spent the past eleven months awaiting trial, that could be applied to his sentence.
O’Shea wants parents from Cassell Elementary School in Mt. Greenwood, the Village of Oak Lawn, law enforcement and the 19th Ward Community to all be present at the Bridgeview Courthouse on May 12.
“Wild horses couldn’t drag me away,” O’Shea said.