Catholic Official Resigns After Phone Data Tracked Him On Grindr

(image via Mart Production/Pexels)

A high ranking official for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) resigned his position after the conference was approached by a Catholic media outlet purporting to have cellphone data indicating he regularly used Grindr, the gay dating app.

The Pillar, an online newsletter that reports on the Catholic Church, published its claims about Monsignor Jeffrey Burrill and the alleged Grindr use on Tuesday. The post also contends that Burrill “engaged in serial sexual misconduct” as well as frequented “gay bars and private residences.”

Burrill, a priest from the La Crosse, Wisconsin, diocese resigned from his position as general secretary from USCCB on the same day. As general secretary of the USCCB, Burrill was responsible for coordinating administrative work and planning for the conference, which is the country’s network for Catholic bishops.

USCCB spokeswoman Chieko Noguchi told the Washington Post it was Burrill’s decision to resign after being notified of The Pillar’s allegations of “improper behavior.”

The Pillar says an independent firm had authenticated “commercially available records” based on data Grindr collects from its users.

“A mobile device correlated to Burrill emitted app data signals from the location-based hookup app Grindr on a near-daily basis during parts of 2018, 2019, and 2020 — at both his USCCB office and his USCCB-owned residence, as well as during USCCB meetings and events in other cities,” reported The Pillar.

The “commercially available” signal data doesn’t include users’ names but instead correlates a specific numerical identifier assigned to each mobile device. Privacy experts say it’s possible to identify a specific cellphone by checking locations an individual may frequent like their home or workplace.

So, it would appear, someone searched through the “obtained and analyzed data” looking at Burrill’s residence and office space and noted the identifier.

The report went on to conflate homosexuality with pedophilia in an extremely heavy-handed manner even though there doesn’t appear to be any evidence Burrill was in contact with minors through his use of Grindr.

The Washington Post reports experts “have long raised concerns about ‘anonymized’ data collected by apps (like Grindr) and sold to or shared with aggregators and marketing companies.”

A spokesperson for Grindr described the report by The Pillar as “homophobic” and told the Post the data described in the story couldn’t be publicly accessed.

“The alleged activities listed in that unattributed blog post are infeasible from a technical standpoint and incredibly unlikely to occur,” said the representative in a statement. “There is absolutely no evidence supporting the allegations of improper data collection or usage related to the Grindr app as purported.”

News Round-Up: June 25, 2021

Out singer/songwriter KENTÖ

Out singer/songwriter KENTÖ
Out singer/songwriter KENTÖ

Some news items you might have missed:

Nevada Independent: After receiving a cancer diagnosis in March 2020, Shawn Dixon decided she would organize the first-ever Pride parade in her small town of less than 8,000 residents. Her dream of “years and years” will become a reality in Winnemucca, Nevada, on July 16 & 17.

Reuters: Respect LGBT rights or leave the European Union, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte told his Hungarian counterpart as the bloc’s leaders confronted Viktor Orban over a law that bans schools from using materials seen as promoting homosexuality.

Instinct Magazine: The valedictorian of a New Jersey high school was almost censored and silenced during his graduation speech by his principal when he began to touch on mental health and his sexuality. But thankfully, the student’s memorization skills saved the day.

New York Times: The Manhattan district attorney’s office has informed Donald Trump’s lawyers that criminal charges against his family business, the Trump Organization, in connection with fringe benefits the company awarded its chief financial officer, Allen H. Weisselberg, could be announced as soon as next week.

Justice Dept: Michael Atkinson, 28, Pablo Ceniceros-Deleon, 21, and Daryl Henry, 24, were sentenced to prison terms for their involvement in targeting gay men for violent crimes. The sentences ranged from 11-22 years for luring five men (using the Grindr dating app) to a vacant apartment in Dallas where they held the men at gunpoint, kidnapped, carjacked, and assaulted them.

Out Music: I recently shared the latest from out singer/songwriter Kentö, and today the artist (top photo) drops the official music video for the single, “Silhouette.”

“Silhouette” is the first single off of Kentö’s upcoming album release, Strangers, slated for release later this year. Kentö shares, “I feel like I’m finally making music that is really expressing the sounds that have been in my head all along.”

Dallas Man Pleads Guilty To Violent Hate Crimes Using Grindr To Target Gay Men

Photo of the gay dating app Grindr
Photo of the gay dating app Grindr
(image via Depositphotos)

Daniel Jenkins, 22, of Dallas, Texas, has pleaded guilty to federal hate crime charges in connection with his involvement in a scheme targeting gay men for violent crimes using the gay dating app Grindr. Jenkins is the fourth and final defendant charged in the scheme to plead guilty.

From the Justice Department:

Jenkins pleaded guilty to one hate crime count, one count of conspiracy to commit hate crimes, kidnapping, and carjacking, and one count of use of a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence.

According to court documents filed in connection with his guilty plea, Jenkins admitted that he and his co-conspirators used Grindr, a social media dating platform used primarily 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 over the course of approximately a week in December 2017.

Jenkins admitted that he and his co-conspirators held victims against their will; pointed a handgun at victims and took their personal property, including their vehicles; and traveled to local ATMs to withdraw cash from the victims’ accounts.

Jenkins further admitted that he and his co-conspirators physically injured at least one victim and taunted the victims based upon the co-conspirators’ perception of the men’s sexual orientation.

In March 2019, Michael Atkinson pleaded guilty to conspiracy and kidnapping charges in connection with this case. In December 2019, Daryl Henry and Pablo Ceniceros-Deleon pleaded guilty to a federal hate crime and other charges in connection with this case. Sentencing for these three defendants is set for June 23.

At his sentencing, scheduled for October 6, Jenkins will face up to 26 years in prison.