That’s when Jenkins and three friends forced him into a vacant apartment, beat him, robbed him and taunted him with homophobic slurs. Eight other men told a similar story, prosecutors said.
“I would describe myself as an emotional mess since 2017,” the man lured to the complex told the judge.
Jenkins, the 22-year-old accused ringleader, has been sentenced to spend the next 23 years and four months in federal prison. The Dallas resident pleaded guilty in June to one count of committing a hate crime; one count of conspiracy to commit hate crimes, kidnapping and carjacking; and one count of using a firearm during a violent crime. His three co-conspirators also pleaded guilty. Jenkins was the last to be sentenced.
Jenkins told the judge Wednesday that he doesn’t hate anyone and was sorry for his actions.
“I don’t have any hate toward the gay community,” he said, according to the Morning News.
Heath Hyde, a lawyer for Jenkins said that given his client’s serious crimes, “he was looking at a potential life sentence."
“Therefore, we are pleased with the sentence imposed,” Hyde said in a statement to The Washington Post.
U.S. District Judge Ed Kinkeade scolded Jenkins for his crimes during the sentencing hearing.
“What you did was horrible,” Kinkeade said, according to the Morning News.
The violent rampage began on or around Dec. 6, 2017. Over the next five days, the four perpetrators assaulted at least nine men ranging in age from 19 to 57, according to court documents.
Their method, prosecutors said in the indictment, was to create fake profiles on Grindr, posing as gay men interested in meeting up with other gay men. The purpose was “to commit violent crimes against them, including kidnapping, assault, robbery and carjacking,” prosecutors said.
Jenkins admitted to his involvement in the violent crimes. On Dec. 11, 2017, he said he “lured multiple victims to the apartment complex, pointed a handgun at them, took their personal property and assaulted them, causing at least one victim physical injury,” a Department of Justice news release said. “Jenkins also admitted to participating in the carjacking of at least one victim.”
Jenkins told prosecutors that members in the group used gay slurs and taunted the victims. He added that at least one of the men tried to sexually assault one of the victims.
Acting U.S. attorney Chad Meacham in the Northern District of Texas said the Justice Department does not tolerate such “heinous, hate-based attacks.”
“This defendant singled out victims based on their perceived sexual orientation, then viciously assaulted them,” Meacham said in a news release. “Unfortunately, despite our best efforts, bigots often lurk online. We urge users of dating apps like Grindr to remain vigilant.”
During the hearing Wednesday, one of Jenkins’s victims described his experience in 2017 and said the assault still affects him.
He told the Judge that Jenkins groomed him during the days they communicated on Grindr, in an effort to make him feel comfortable enough to meet, the Morning News reported.
Kinkeade said he has heard many victims’ stories over the years. But this experience was different, he told the man targeted by Jenkins and his crew.
“I probably won’t ever forget your testimony,” Kinkeade said.