Daniel Jenkins, 22, of Dallas, was sentenced to 23 years in prison for using the gay dating app Grindr to ‘lure’ gay men to an apartment where he’d assault them
A Texas man was sentenced to 23 years in federal prison for using popular LGBTQ dating app Grindr to ‘lure’ gay men to his apartment where he and three friends assaulted and robbed them at gunpoint.
Daniel Jenkins, 22, of Dallas, was sentenced Wednesday and admitted to using the dating app to target and attack nine men, ranging from 19 to 57 years old, in the Dallas area. He is the last of four men to be sentenced in connection to the scheme.
Jenkins 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 Department of Justice said in a statement.
Starting in December 2017, Jenkins and his friends Michael Atkinson, Pablo Ceniceros-Deleon and Daryl Henry, all of whom are in their 20s, created fake profiles on Grindr and invited gay men to an apartment complex in Dallas.
When the men arrived, Jenkins and his friends held them at gunpoint and forced them to drive to local ATM machines to withdraw cash from their accounts. The suspects also forced the to relinquish their possessions, including their wallets, money, car keys, cars, drivers’ licenses and identification cards, credit and debit cards and cellphones.
In one case, on December 11, 2017, Jenkins admitted that the group held five victims at gunpoint before robbing, beating and sexually assaulting them while taunting them with homophobic slurs. They sexually assaulted at least three of the victims and one of the suspects is also accused of urinating and wiping human feces on at least one victim, according to the Department of Justice.
Jenkins admitted to using the dating app to target and attack nine men, ranging from 19 to 57 years old, in the Dallas area
He was the last of four men sentenced after all pleaded guilty in June to committing hate crimes starting in December 2017. In one case, the group held five victims at gunpoint before robbing, beating and sexually assaulting them
Daryl Henry was sentenced to 20 years in prison for his involvement
‘This defendant targeted innocent victims for violent crimes simply because he believed they were gay,’ Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke, of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, said in a press release announcing Jenkin’s sentencing.
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.’
Atkinson, Ceniceros-Deleon and Henry, also pleaded guilty in June and were since sentenced. Atkinson will serve just over 11 years in prison, Ceniceros-Deleon will serve a 22-year sentence and Henry was sentenced to 20 years in prison.
The FBI’s Dallas Field Office conducted the federal investigation and a separate criminal investigation is being conducted by the Dallas Police Department.
‘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.’
Grindr has become one of the most popular dating apps among gay men since its release in 2009 and allows users across the globe to see how far away they are from each other.
The app’s safety guidelines emphasize that users should be cautious about meeting up with people they meet on the app, suggesting they ‘do so in public first, at a safe space like an LGBTQ-friendly café.’ It also states to ‘be careful about what possessions you take with you.’
In response to such hate crimes in Dallas, Mayor Eric Johnson announced last month the formation of the Mayor’s Anti-Hate Advisory Council, which includes 16 community leaders from different advocacy groups throughout the city
Special Agent in Charge Matthew J. DeSarno, of the FBI Dallas Field Office, said in a press release that Jenkin’s sentence sends a ‘strong message’ that ‘violent, targeted attacks’ will not be tolerated.
‘Investigating hate crimes is one of the FBI’s highest priorities and we will continue to vigorously pursue offenders that threaten our families and communities,’ he said. ‘Everyone deserves to be and feel safe and we take this opportunity to urge the public to report suspected hate crimes to the FBI and local law enforcement.’
In response to such hate crimes in Dallas, Mayor Eric Johnson announced last month the formation of the Mayor’s Anti-Hate Advisory Council, which includes 16 community leaders from different advocacy groups throughout the city.
‘We cannot afford to ignore or downplay hate,’ he said in a press release. ‘Nobody should feel uncomfortable or unsafe in Dallas because of who they are, because of their race or ethnicity, their sexual and gender identities, their religion, or their national origin.’
He said that the advisory council would be tasked with ‘helping advise me and our police department on ways our city can respond to new threats and old prejudices, help facilitate meaningful dialogue between people, and to increase tolerance and understanding in Dallas.’