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Man beat transgender woman with skateboard in hate crime, prosecutors say

Johnny Santos Moreno
Johnny Santos Moreno, 23, of Costa Mesa, is being held in lieu of $50,000 bail after prosecutors say he beat a transgender woman with a skateboard.
(Orange County district attorney’s office)

A Costa Mesa man was being held in an Orange County jail Monday on charges of assault with a deadly weapon after prosecutors say he beat a transgender woman with a skateboard.

The district attorney’s office, which called the attack a hate crime, said in a release that Johnny Santos Moreno, 23, is facing felony charges of assault with a deadly weapon, dissuading a witness by force and violation of civil rights through violent injury.

Charges stem from an incident Thursday during which Moreno hurled derogatory and homophobic epithets at a transgender woman, disparaging her sexuality as he repeatedly hit her with his skateboard, prosecutors said.

A passing motorist witnessed the attack and called the Costa Mesa Police Department, at which point Moreno used his skateboard to threaten the motorist, according to the release.

Orange County Dist. Atty. Todd Spitzer said in a statement Friday that differences in skin color, sexuality and religion should be causes for celebration of diversity, not targets for “haters” to mock, deride, harm and harass.

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“No one should have to live in the shadow of fear that they will be targeted and physically attacked because of the way they dress, speak, behave or who they love,” Spitzer said. “Those who engage in hate-motivated crimes will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law here in Orange County.”

Moreno is being held in lieu of $50,000 bail, prosecutors said. He pleaded not guilty Friday.

Information about the victim and her injuries was not immediately available.

Court records show that Moreno has been convicted of various misdemeanor offenses in recent years, including multiple charges of possession of a controlled substance and paraphernalia, trespassing and refusing to leave an area at an officer’s request.


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