Grindr Demon: Texas man gets 23 years for using gay app to 'lure' men and assault them
DALLAS, TEXAS: A Texas man got 23 years in federal prison after using queer dating app Grindr in order to "lure" homosexual men to his apartment where he and three of his friends assaulted and robbed them at gunpoint.
Daniel Jenkins, 22, was sentenced on Wednesday, October 13, after he admitted to using the popular LGBTQ app to victimize the nine men, ranging from ages 19 to 57 years old, in the Dallas area. The Department of Justice said in a statement that Jenkins — the last of four men to be sentenced in connection to the case — pleaded guilty in June to one count of conspiracy to commit hate crimes, kidnapping, carjacking, one hate crime count, and one count of using a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence, the Dallas Morning News reported.
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Jenkins and his pals Michael Atkinson, Pablo Ceniceros-Deleon, and Daryl Henry started creating fake profiles on Grindr in December 2017, inviting gay men to an apartment complex in Dallas. After their arrival, Jenkins and his friends held them at gunpoint and forced them to withdraw cash from local ATM machines. The suspects also had them relinquish their possessions, including their wallets, money, car keys, cars, drivers’ licenses, and identification cards, credit and debit cards, and cellphones, the Daily Mail reported.
Jenkins admitted to holding five victims at gunpoint on December 11, 2017, before the group robbed, beat, and sexually assaulted them while taunting them with homophobic slurs. At least three of the victims were sexually assaulted, according to the DoJ, while one of the suspects is accused of urinating and wiping human feces on at least one victim.
In a press release announcing Jenkins' sentencing, Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke, of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division noted how the defendant "targeted innocent victims for violent crimes simply because he believed they were gay." She added, "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. We will continue to pursue justice for victims of bias-motivated crimes, wherever they occur."
In June, Jenkins' partners in crime Atkinson, Ceniceros-Deleon, and Henry also pleaded guilty and were since sentenced. While Atkinson will serve just over 11 years in prison, Ceniceros-Deleon will serve a 22-year sentence and Henry a 20-year term. A federal investigation into the case was undertaken by the FBI's Dallas Field Office. Meanwhile, a separate criminal probe by the Dallas Police Department is still underway. "The Department of Justice will not tolerate these sorts of heinous, hate-based attacks," Acting U.S. Attorney Chad Meacham for the Northern District of Texas said in a press release. "Unfortunately, despite our best efforts, bigots often lurk online. We urge users of dating apps like Grindr to remain vigilant," he added.
Since its release in 2009, Grindr has become one of the most popular dating apps in the LGBTQ community. The app's safety guidelines urge users to be cautious before meeting up with strangers on the app, suggesting they "do so in public first, at a safe space like an LGBTQ-friendly café." The guidelines also urge users to "be careful about what possessions you take with you."