LOS ANGELES – Special agents with the FBI this morning arrested a San Gabriel Valley man and online promoter of the involuntary celibate (incel) subculture on a federal cyberstalking charge that he conducted an internet harassment campaign against two teenage girls who rejected his sexual advances.
Carl Bennington, 33, of Covina, was arrested pursuant to a criminal complaint unsealed today in United States District Court in Los Angeles. Bennington will remain in federal custody pending the outcome of detention hearing scheduled for Thursday. His arraignment is scheduled for May 11.
The complaint alleges that, from at least February 2016 to March 2020, Bennington repeatedly used various social media accounts to harass young girls and women, including by sending hundreds of messages threatening to commit acts of physical and sexual violence against them if they did not submit to his sexual advances.
Neither victim ever met Bennington in person, according to the complaint. When one of the victims demanded that Bennington stop harassing her, Bennington replied that he was going to kill her and her family.
Social media records show that, in addition to the threatening and harassing messages he sent to young women and girls, Bennington frequently made statements on internet groups promoting incel ideology. According to court documents, incels are persons who are unable to find a willing sex partner. Incel ideology promotes the view that women oppress men and have too much freedom to choose their own sexual partners. The ideology ranges in tone from sad and self-loathing to advocating the “absolute hatred” of women, according to court documents.
The complaint charges Bennington with cyberstalking, a felony offense that carries a statutory maximum sentence of five years in federal prison.
A criminal complaint contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
The FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force investigated this matter.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney David T. Ryan of the Terrorism and Export Crimes Section.