A Texas Man Is Sentenced for Targeting Gay Men Through a Dating App
Daniel Jenkins was a member of a group that used the app Grindr to entice gay men to an apartment complex in Dallas, prosecutors said. They then robbed and assaulted them.
Prosecutors announced Wednesday that a Texas man was sentenced to 23 years in federal prison for his role in a plan that used the popular dating app Grindr to target homosexual men for violent hate crimes.
Daniel Jenkins, 22, of Dallas, pled guilty in June to one count of conspiracy to commit hate crimes, abduction, and carjacking, one act of hate crime, and one count of firearm use during and in connection with a crime of violence, according to the Department of Justice.
Mr. Jenkins was the final of four defendants convicted in connection with the conspiracy's use of Grindr, a social media program predominantly used by gay men.
Mr. Jenkins's attorney was not immediately available for comment Thursday.
"This defendant singled out innocent victims for violent offenses solely on the basis of their sexual orientation," Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division said in a statement. The punishment, she continued, "reinforces the Justice Department's commitment to vigorously prosecute bias-motivated crimes, particularly those committed against the L.G.B.T.Q.I. community."
Mr. Jenkins and a co-conspirator launched the conspiracy in December 2017 by creating profiles on Grindr to attract men to areas where they would rob them, the Department of Justice said.
According to the Department of Justice, in one incident early that month, members of the conspiracy grabbed the men at gunpoint and forced them to drive to ATMs to withdraw cash from their accounts.
Mr. Jenkins admitted in another event that month that he and others "lured multiple victims" to an apartment complex, displayed a weapon at them, robbed them of their things, and beat them, wounding one.
According to the Department of Justice, Mr. Jenkins told investigators that members of his group shouted homophobic slurs and insulted the victims, and that one member attempted to sexually assault one of the victims.
Mr. Jenkins also admitted to participating in at least one carjacking, according to prosecutors.
Michael Atkinson, Pablo Ceniceros-Deleon, and Daryl Henry, all in their twenties, were Mr. Jenkins' co-conspirators. The three men pled guilty in June and were sentenced to between 11 and 22 years in prison.
"Unfortunately, despite our best efforts, racists frequently lurk online," said Chad Meacham, acting United States Attorney for the Northern District of Texas. "We urge users of dating apps such as Grindr to exercise caution."
Grindr is one of several dating applications that have increased in popularity among lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (L.G.B.T.Q.) people and helped alter how they meet. Grindr, which launched in 2009, is a location-based app that informs its millions of users worldwide how far apart they are.
Grindr said in a statement Thursday that it is "always saddened to hear of the tough and sometimes terrible experiences our community members have had both online and offline."
The company added that it urged users to exercise caution when interacting with strangers. According to the company's safety guidelines, if a user wishes to meet another app user, they should "do so in public first, in a safe space such as an L.G.B.T.Q.+ friendly cafe, and be cautious about what possessions they bring with them."