Skip to main content

Self-Proclaimed ‘Incel’ Arrested for Hate Crimes After Pepper Spraying Women in Attacks Posted on YouTube: Prosecutors

Johnny Deven Young

Police released this photo of self-proclaimed incel Johnny Deven Young and his Chevy cargo van while announcing his fugitive status in May 2022. He was arrested in September. (Costa Mesa Police Department)

A 25-year-old California man who police say posted videos online showing him assaulting women has been arrested on hate crime charges related to the self-described involuntary celibacy that investigators believe motivated the attacks.

Johnny Deven Young had been wanted since May after police in Costa Mesa identified him as the man who’d pepper sprayed several women after confronting them with “vulgar and explicit language” outside bars in the Orange County city.

Police say he describes himself as an incel, which they defined as someone who “regards himself or herself as being involuntarily celibate and typically expresses extreme resentment and hostility towards those who are sexually active.”

Clips of the attacks show Young asking one woman “can I hook up with you?” and looking at the camera with a bloodied nose, saying, “She punched me in the nose, bro.”

A wanted poster distributed in May by the Costa Police Department featured an apparent booking photo and a photo of him with blonde hair and sunglasses. It also showed a Chevy cargo van with a green stripe, which police said Young is known to drive.

Johnny Deven Young

Johnny Deven Young, 25 (Costa Mesa Police Department and Orange County District Attorney’s Office)

Young was initially arrested in San Mateo County, between San Francisco and Santa Cruz, earlier this month on a misdemeanor charge of theft of identifying information. He pleaded guilty shortly after and was sentenced on Sept. 15 to 25 days in jail and a one year probation. He was then transported to Orange County, where he appeared in court Monday on four felony charges of assault with great bodily injury and four felony charges of illegal use of tear gas.

Each charge carries a hate crime enhancement that will bring more time in prison if convicted, and the four assault charges include enhancements for the personal use of a weapon. He also is charged with five misdemeanor counts of violation of civil rights.

The two attacks identified by Costa Mesa police involved four women “and a man who tried to stop one of the assaults,” the Orange County District Attorney’s Office said Tuesday.

Young has a previous hate crime conviction out of Clark County, Nevada, for harassment motivated by hatred for the victim, which is a gross misdemeanor. He pleaded guilty in August 2019, according to court documents obtained by Law&Crime.

A judge set Young’s bail at $500,000 Monday, with his next court appearance scheduled for Oct. 10.

He is being prosecuted by Orange County Deputy District Attorney Billy Ha, who is assigned to the Hate Crimes Unit. Ha’s boss, Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer, called Young’s behavior “disgusting” in a press release Tuesday.

“The celebration of this behavior by like-minded individuals is completely unacceptable,” Spitzer said. “These charges send a very strong message to that entire community that we will not tolerate violence against women in any form.”

(Images: Costa Mesa Police Department and Orange County District Attorney’s Office)

Have a tip we should know? [email protected]

Filed Under:

Follow Law&Crime:

A graduate of the University of Oregon, Meghann worked at The Spokesman-Review in Spokane, Washington, and the Idaho Statesman in Boise, Idaho, before moving to California in 2013 to work at the Orange County Register. She spent four years as a litigation reporter for the Los Angeles Daily Journal and one year as a California-based editor and reporter for and associated publications such as The National Law Journal and New York Law Journal before joining Law & Crime News. Meghann has written for The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, Los Angeles Magazine, Bloomberg Law, ABA Journal, The Forward, Los Angeles Business Journal and the Laguna Beach Independent. Her Twitter coverage of federal court hearings in a lawsuit over homelessness in Los Angeles placed 1st in the Los Angeles Press Club's Southern California Journalism Awards for Best Use of Social Media by an Independent Journalist in 2021. An article she freelanced for Los Angeles Times Community News about a debate among federal judges regarding the safety of jury trials during COVID also placed 1st in the Orange County Press Club Awards for Best Pandemic News Story in 2021.