Two Dallas men pleaded guilty on Friday to federal hate crimes and other charges in connection with a scheme in which they created fake profiles on Grindr and posed as gay men interested in ‘dates’ to lure gay men to an apartment complex in Dallas, Texas, in order to commit violent crimes against them.
The Department of Justice reported: “According to court documents filed in connection with their guilty pleas, both Henry and Ceniceros-Deleon admitted Grindr was used, a social media dating platform primarily used 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. Henry admitted that he and others held the victims against their will in the vacant apartment. Ceniceros-Deleon admitted that he and others traveled to local ATMs to withdraw cash from the victims’ accounts. Both Henry and Ceniceros-Deleon admitted that while the victims were being held captive they were subjected to taunts based upon the co-conspirators’ perception of the men’s sexual orientation. In addition, Ceniceros-Deleon admitted to being the gunman in a Dec. 7, 2017, carjacking where he and others used Grindr to lure a man to a location and then forced the man, at gunpoint, to drive the conspirators to local ATMs to withdraw cash from the man’s account.”
According to the indictment, “the conspirators used Grindr to lure nine victims to an apartment complex in Dallas from Dec. 6, 2017, through Dec. 11, 2017. On Dec. 11, 2017, the conspirators held five victims against their will in an apartment at the complex. Four of the victims were physically assaulted, three were sexually assaulted, and some victims were called gay slurs. A conspirator also urinated and wiped human feces on at least one victim.”
Two other men were involved in the criminal acts, Towleroad previously reported. Michael Atkinson pleaded guilty to conspiracy and kidnapping charges in connection with this case and his sentencing is set for February. Atkinson will be sentenced in February of 2020. A fourth man, Daniel Jenkins, is awaiting trial.
Said Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband of the Civil Rights Division: “Kidnappings, carjackings, thefts, sexual assaults, and armed, violent attacks against innocent people are heinous crimes, and when perpetrators commit those crimes against victims because of their sexual orientation, the U.S. Department of Justice will continue zealously to seek justice for the victims and to punish the perpetrators to the full extent of the law. Prosecuting those who commit such monstrous acts because of victims’ sexual orientation is a priority of the Department of Justice, and we will continue to bring to justice anyone who commits such hateful, violent crimes.”
Added U.S. Attorney Erin Nealy Cox for the Northern District of Texas: “These defendants used Grindr to single out their victim based on sexual orientation – something the Northern District of Texas simply will not tolerate. Unfortunately, this is not the first time a dating app user has fallen victim to a violent crime. I’m urging the public to be vigilant about the dangers lurking online.”