A Texas man was sentenced Wednesday to 23 years in federal prison for his involvement in a scheme that used popular dating app Grindr to prosecute gay men for hate crimes, prosecutors said Wednesday.
Daniel Jenkins, 22, of Dallas, pleaded guilty in June to one count of conspiracy to commit hate crimes, kidnapping, car theft, one count of hate crime and one count of using a firearm during and in connection with a violent crime. This is stated in the message of the Ministry of Justice.
Mr. Jenkins was the last of four defendants to be convicted of conspiracy using Grindr, a social media app used mostly by gay men.
It was not immediately clear whether Mr Jenkins had a lawyer.
“This defendant was prosecuting innocent victims for violent crimes simply because he believed them to be gay,” Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clark of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division said in a statement. She added that the verdict “underscores the Department of Justice’s commitment to aggressively prosecute bias-motivated crimes, including crimes against the LGBTQI community.”
The scheme began in December 2017, when Mr Jenkins and an accomplice created profiles on Grindr to lure men to locations where they would rob them, the Justice Department said.
In one incident earlier that month, after the arrival of the men, the conspiracy held them at gunpoint and forced them to drive up to ATMs to withdraw cash from their accounts, the Justice Department said.
In another incident in the same month, Mr. Jenkins admitted, according to prosecutors, that he and others “lured several victims” into the apartment complex, pointed a gun at them, took their belongings from them and attacked them, injuring one of them.
Mr Jenkins told investigators that members of his group used homosexual assaults and bullied the victims, and that one member tried to rape one of the victims, the Justice Department said.
Prosecutors said Mr. Jenkins also confessed to being involved in the hijacking of at least one victim.
Mr. Jenkins’ accomplices were Michael Atkinson, Pablo Seniseros-Deleon and Daryl Henry, who were about 20 years old. The three men pleaded guilty in June and their sentences ranged from 11 to 22 years.
“Unfortunately, despite our best efforts, there are often fanatics lurking on the net,” Chad Meacham, Acting US Attorney for the Northern District of Texas, said in a statement. “We urge users of dating apps like Grindr to remain vigilant.”
Grindr is one of several dating apps that have become popular among LGBTQ users and helped redefine the way they meet. Released in 2009, Grindr is a location app that tells millions of users around the world how far apart they are.
In its safety advisories, the company suggests that if someone wants to meet another user of the app, “do it publicly first, in a safe place like an LGBTQ + friendly cafe, and be careful about what kind of things you are. take with you. “
The company did not immediately respond to comment on the case on Thursday.