SAN DIEGO (CNS) – A Mira Mesa man charged with accosting nearly a dozen women in the city of San Diego and North County pleaded not guilty Wednesday to more than a dozen misdemeanor charges, including sexual battery and lewd conduct.
Ji Hoon Yong, 25, is charged with 14 misdemeanors stemming from acts allegedly committed against seven women at stores in La Jolla, Clairemont, Mira Mesa and Kearny Mesa. Those encounters – – which allegedly occurred between July 1 and Dec. 20 of last year — precede the North County incidents involving four victims, which he’s accused of committing between Dec. 20 and Jan. 4.
Yong previously pleaded not guilty to the North County charges filed against him by the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office, which include 10 misdemeanor counts of lewd conduct, sexual battery and providing false information to a peace officer.
He was arrested earlier this month at a Walmart in San Marcos, when deputies were called to the store when a witness reported recognizing Yong as the subject of a sheriff’s news release.
The sheriff’s department had circulated photographs of the suspect, who allegedly approached women from behind and pressed himself against them.
“When the startled women would turn to confront the man, he claims to have confused them for friends,” according to the sheriff’s statement, which also said he was seen on surveillance footage inappropriately touching himself underneath his clothes before and after the assaults.
The City Attorney’s Office alleges similar conduct in the city of San Diego, with nearly all of the incidents captured on store surveillance footage, according to prosecutors.