The last of four Texas men accused of robbing and assaulting gay men they met via Grindr has pleaded guilty to hate-crime charges and more.
Daniel Jenkins, 22, pleaded guilty Wednesday in federal court to one hate-crime count, one hate-crime conspiracy count, kidnapping, carjacking, and one count of using a firearm during a crime of violence, according to a press release from the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Texas. The three others had pleaded guilty earlier.
"Jenkins admitted that he and his co-conspirators used Grindr, a social media dating platform used primarily by gay men, to lure gay men to a vacant apartment and other areas in and around Dallas for robbery, carjacking, kidnapping, and hate crimes over the course of approximately a week in December 2017," the release states.
The crimes included robbing the men at gunpoint, taking items including their vehicles, forcing them to withdraw cash from ATMs, and taunting them with antigay slurs. One victim was smeared with feces and urinated on, and one sexually assaulted with an object, according to court records. There were nine victims in all.
"These defendants brutalized multiple victims, singling them out due to their sexual orientation. We cannot allow this sort of violence to fester unchecked," Acting U.S. Attorney Prerak Shah said in the release. "The Department of Justice is committed to prosecuting hate crimes. In the meantime, we urge dating app users to remain vigilant. Unfortunately, predators often lurk online."
In March 2019, Michael Atkinson pleaded guilty to conspiracy and kidnapping charges in connection with the case, and in December 2019, Daryl Henry and Pablo Ceniceros-Deleon pleaded guilty to a federal hate crime and other charges. They are scheduled to be sentenced June 23.
Jenkins is set to be sentenced October 26. Under the terms of the plea agreement, he faces a maximum sentence of 26 years in prison.
The FBI's Dallas field office investigated the crimes, while the Dallas Police Department is conducting a separate investigation. The federal case was prosecuted by the U.S. Justice Department's Civil Rights Division, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Texas, and a special litigation counsel.