Texas Man Is Sentenced for Using Dating App to Target Gay Men

Daniel Jenkins, 22, was the last of four defendants convicted of conspiracy against gay men. (Dallas County Sheriff's Department via The New York Times)
A Texas man was sentenced to 23 years in federal prison Wednesday for being linked to the popular dating app Grindr to attack gay men for violent hate crimes, prosecutors said.
The man, Daniel Jenkins, 22, of Dallas, pleaded guilty to a conspiracy to commit hate crimes, kidnapping, car theft, a hate crime case, and a gun use during and related to a violent crime in June the Ministry of Justice in a statement with.
Jenkins was the last of four defendants convicted in the conspiracy using Grindr, a social media app mostly used by gay men.
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A Jenkins attorney was not immediately available for comment Thursday.
"This defendant targeted innocent victims of violent crimes simply because he believed they were gay," Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department's civil rights division said in the statement. She added that the phrase "underscores the Department of Justice's commitment to aggressively prosecute biased crimes, including crimes against the LGBTQI community".
The plan began in December 2017 when Jenkins and a co-conspirator were profiling on Grindr to lure men into places where they would rob them, the Justice Department said.
In an incident earlier this month after the men arrived, members of the conspiracy held the men at gunpoint and forced them to drive to ATMs to withdraw cash from their accounts, the Justice Department said.
In another incident earlier this month, prosecutors said Jenkins admitted that he and others lured "multiple victims" into an apartment complex; pointed a gun at her; robbed them of their possessions; and attacked her and hurt you.
Jenkins told investigators that members of his group used gay slurs and mocked the victims and that a member tried to sexually abuse one of the victims, the Justice Department said.
Prosecutors said Jenkins had also admitted being involved in at least one victim's car theft.
Jenkins' co-conspirators were Michael Atkinson, Pablo Ceniceros-Deleon, and Daryl Henry, all of whom were in their twenties. The three men pleaded guilty in June and their terms ranged from 11 to 22 years.
"Unfortunately, despite our best efforts, there are often fanatics lurking on the Internet," Chad Meacham, acting US attorney for the Northern District of Texas, said in a statement. "We urge users of dating apps like Grindr to stay vigilant."
Grindr is one of several dating apps that has grown in popularity with LGBTQ users and has helped redefine the way they meet. Released in 2009, Grindr is a location-based app that lets millions of users around the world know how far apart they are.
In a statement on Thursday, Grindr said it was "always sad to hear of the difficult and sometimes tragic experiences our community members have had both online and offline."
The company added that it encouraged its users to "be careful when dealing with people they do not know".
In its security policy, the company suggests that if someone wants to meet another user of the app, "do so first in public, in a safe place like an LGBTQ + friendly coffee shop, and be careful of what belongings you bring with you".
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