On Tuesday (8 January), a federal grand jury in Texas returned an indictment against two men accused of using Grindr to assault and rob gay male victims. They charged the men with conspiracy to commit hate crimes.
The jury delivered a 15-count indictment against Daniel Jenkins, 19, and Michael Atkinson, 24.
According to the Texas state attorney’s office, Jenkins and Atkinson used the popular dating app to ‘lure’ men to an apartment complex. They allegedly targeted at least nine men between the ages of 19 and 57.
U.S. Attorney Erin Nealy Cox of the Northern District of Texas also revealed that at least ‘five victims were physicaly assaulted, one was sexually assaulted with an object, and one was smeared with feces’.
Other reports state Jenkins and Atkinson allegedly wielded guns and threatened their victims with them.
The pair face numerous other charges beyond the conspiracy one. Other charges could include kidnapping and carjacking, with a possible maximum sentence of life in prison.
Last May, four men in Texas pled guilty to similar crimes. They all received between 10 and 20 years in federal prison.
These men posed as gay men on Grindr and then made plans to meet their victims in person. Once they met the gay men from the app, they assaulted them, tied them up, and robbed them.
At the time, attorney Joseph D. Brown for the Eastern District of Texas said the case ‘highlights the danger of the internet’ and specifically online apps.