The 22-year-old co-founder of a charity that advocates for victims of sexual violence was arrested on Tuesday in New York for possession of child pornography and for working to arrange sexual encounters with children as young as two years old. Joel Davis — who helped found Youth to End Sexual Violence, and chaired the UN’s International Campaign to Stop Rape and Gender Violence in Conflict — has been charged with several counts, including attempted sexual exploitation of a minor and enticement of a minor to engage in sexual activity, after exchanging messages with undercover federal agents earlier this month.
During those text message exchanges, Davis had told undercover law enforcement officers that he was sexually interested in children of all ages, including infants, and had sent the officers explicit photographs of infants and toddlers. Some of the photos showed the minors engaged in sexual activity with adults.
Davis, who had previously been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2015 and had served as the U.S.’ Youth Ambassador on Sexual Violence in Conflict, also told the officers of his intention to engage in sexual activities with an undercover officer’s nine-year-old daughter and the two-year-old daughter of the officer’s girlfriend. He is alleged to have gone into great detail about the sexual activities he wished to perform with the children.
After his arrest, Davis allegedly admitted that he had abused a 13-year-old boy in the past and that he kept pornographic images of children on his phone.
Conduct unfathomable as it is sickening
In a statement, U.S. Attorney General for the Southern District of New York, Geoffrey Berman, said:
The conduct alleged against Joel Davis is as unfathomable as it is sickening, and as this case demonstrates, law enforcement will keep its watchful eye on the darkest corners of the internet to bring predators to justice.”
FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge William F. Sweeney Jr. also condemned Davis, stating:
Having started an organization that pushed for the end of sexual violence, Davis displayed the highest degree of hypocrisy by his alleged attempts to sexually exploit multiple minors. […] Crimes against children such as those alleged are taken very seriously by the FBI, and we continue to work tirelessly to investigate those who place the most helpless members of the American public at risk.”
Indeed, the hypocrisy in Davis’ case is beyond obvious, especially given the fact that he had written an op-ed for the Huffington Post in 2014 in which he boasted that his organization, Youth to End Sexual Violence, was helping to prosecute those who exploit children for sex.
At the time, Davis wrote:
Youth to End Sexual Violence is one example of how youth-led organizations around the world are standing together in solidarity – demanding a seat at the discussion table for youth survivors, activists, and leaders. We are also using media and technology to share the global call to prevent, protect, and prosecute, and working with governments and civil society organizations to report on how young people are affected by warzone rape.”
Despite the public persona he sought to create, Davis was yet another child predator hiding in plain sight.