The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports:
One of two men accused of using Grindr to lure gay men to a vacant apartment in Dallas where they’d be beaten, robbed and sexually assaulted has pleaded guilty, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Texas.
Michael Atkinson, 24, pleaded guilty on Thursday to kidnapping and conspiracy charges in connection with his involvement in the scheme. The victims in the case — nine of them — range in age from 19 to 57.
Atkinson and Daniel Jenkins, 19, are accused of using Grindr to create fake profiles, posing as gay men and luring men to a vacant apartment at the Solana Ridge Apartment complex in East Dallas.
From the Justice Department:
“The Department of Justice will continue to protect individuals and communities from violence based on sexual orientation or gender identity,” said Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband of the Civil Rights Division. “The Department will continue to bring perpetrators of hate crimes to justice.”
“The Northern District of Texas will not tolerate criminals who single out victims based on their sexual orientation,” said U.S. Attorney Erin Nealy Cox. “Unfortunately, this is not the first time we’ve seen despicable crimes committed on apps like Grindr. I want to urge the public to be vigilant online and recognize the dangers that are lurking there.”
Atkinson faces a maximum statutory penalty of life in prison for the kidnapping charge and five years in prison for the conspiracy charge, and a fine of up to $250,000 with respect to each offense. The maximum statutory sentence prescribed by Congress is provided here for information purposes, as the sentence will be determined by the court based on the advisory sentencing guidelines and other statutory factors.
The second man’s trial will be later this year.