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Suspect charged in San Diego County series of gropings

Sexual Battery Suspect Photo 2.jpg
Posted at 10:51 AM, Jan 22, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-22 22:04:07-05

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) -- Charges have been filed against a Mira Mesa man suspected in a series of sexual battery incidents at local stores dating back to last summer, the San Diego City Attorney’s Office announced Friday.

Ji Hoon Yong faces 14 criminal charges in connection with “his interactions with seven women between July 1 to Dec. 20, 2020.” Yong, 25, was charged with seven misdemeanor counts of sexual battery and seven misdemeanor counts of lewd conduct.

The City Attorney’s Office said the reported incidents happened at stores in La Jolla, Clairemont, Mira Mesa, and Kearny Mesa. Yong allegedly carried out similar acts in the North County, “where he was arrested and has been charged with 10 similar crimes by the San Diego County District Attorney,” the office noted.

According to the City Attorney’s Office: “Each situation was nearly identical. In store surveillance videos, a man believed to be Yong can be seen with his hands inside his pants, then grabbing his intended victim from behind and thrusting his pelvis into her backside. When confronted by victims, he nearly always apologized and said he had bumped into them by accident or he thought they were a friend.”

RELATED: Man caught on video groping several women in North County

The office added: “In one case, at a Ralph’s store on La Jolla Village Drive on July 4, the victim alerted the manager, who chased the assailant. He ran away so quickly that he left his shoes behind, according to the police report. In another incident, at a Smart & Final in Mira Mesa on November 18, the suspect apologized to his victim, then followed her to the checkout line, where he grabbed her by the shoulders and apologized again for ‘scaring’ her.”

Yong was eventually arrested on Jan. 4 at a San Marcos Walmart after a woman recognized him from a news report.

Yong is expected to be arraigned next week; he remains in jail as of Jan. 22, with his bail set at $100,000.

The City Attorney’s Office said Yong “is scheduled to go to trial in North County on March 3 on 10 misdemeanor charges involving incidents that took place between Dec. 20, 2020 and Jan. 4, 2021.”

San Diego City Attorney Mara Elliott said, “For at least six months, Yong repeatedly molested unsuspecting victims while they shopped. When caught, he pretended like his unwelcome conduct was a misunderstanding. His victims knew better and reported him to law enforcement. Due to the serial nature of his actions, we believe that there may be other victims. We encourage victims and witnesses to come forward so that we can ensure justice is served.”

Witnesses and anyone who believes they were victimized is urged to call the City Attorney’s Office investigator at 619-533-5624.