A 22-year-old Texas man has been sentenced to 23 years in prison for using the dating app Grindr to target, rob, and assault gay men.
According to a press release from the Department of Justice, Daniel Jenkins pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit hate crimes, kidnapping, and carjacking; one hate crime count; and one count of use of a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence.
“This defendant targeted innocent victims for violent crimes simply because he believed they were gay,” the assistant attorney general for civil rights, Kristen Clarke, said in a statement. “This sentence affirms that bias-motivated crimes run contrary to our national values and underscores the Justice Department’s commitment to aggressively prosecuting bias-motivated crimes, including crimes against the LGBTQI community.”
Court documents reveal that for a week in December 2017, he and three other co-conspirators used Grindr to bait who they thought were gay men, asking them to meet in a vacant apartment and other places in Dallas in order to rob, carjack, and kidnap them, among other hate crimes.
Jenkins was hit with the longest sentence out of everyone. His co-conspirator Michael Atkinson was sentenced to 11 years, Daryl Henry to 20 years, and Pablo Ceniceros-Deleon to 22 years, for a range of charges that included conspiracy, kidnapping, and hate crime.
The men used homophobic slurs towards the victims, and some were physically and sexually assaulted.
“Unfortunately, despite our best efforts, bigots often lurk online,” Chad Meacham, the acting U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Texas, said in a statement. “We urge users of dating apps like Grindr to remain vigilant.”