2 men sentenced for targeting, assaulting gay men found through Grindr app

Two Texas men were sentenced to prison Monday on federal hate crime charges accusing them of using the dating app Grindr to target gay men who they would meet, assault and rob.

Anthony Shelton, 20, of Frisco, was sentenced to 20 years in prison, according to a news release from the U.S. Department of Justice. Cameron Ajiduah, 19, also of Frisco, was sentenced to 15 years.

Shelton and Ajiduah pleaded guilty to charges that they and a third defendant, Nigel Garrett, used Grindr to contact the victim and arrange a meeting at his home, the news release said. When they arrived, they bound the victim with tape, beat him and hurled anti-gay slurs at him while robbing him at gunpoint of his property, including his car.

"This case highlights the danger of the internet and specifically, online apps," Joseph D. Brown, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Texas, said in a statement. "In this case, the defendants misused the internet for sinister purposes in order to target an innocent man based on his sexual orientation, causing him bodily harm and damage to his property."

Garrett, 21, was sentenced to 15 years in prison in January following his own guilty plea. A fourth defendant, Chancler Encalade, 20, pleaded guilty in February and was sentenced to 10 years.

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All four defendants were accused in a May 2017 federal indictment of targeting multiple gay men they found on Grindr and committing four home invasions in Plano, Frisco and Aubrey. They were charged with conspiracy, kidnapping, carjacking and possession of a firearm in the furtherance of the crimes.

The 18-count indictment accused them of federal hate crimes based on the victims' sexual orientation, Justice Department officials said. They faced potential life sentences.

John Gore, acting assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, said Monday that the agency would continue to investigate and prosecute hate crimes.

"The Department of Justice will not tolerate any act of violence targeting individuals based on their sexual orientation, gender identity, race, color, religion, disability, or national origin," Gore said.

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