Content warning: This article contains mention of pedophilia, child pornography, and sexual assault/violence.
Joel Davis, GS ’19, was arrested Tuesday on charges of “enticement of a minor to engage in sexual activity, attempted sexual exploitation of a minor, and possession, receipt, and distribution of child pornography,” according to a press release from US Attorney’s Office of the Southern District of New York.
Davis reportedly described the sexual activity he intended to engage in with the nine-year-old daughter of an undercover officer and the two-year-old daughter of the officer’s girlfriend, requested sexually explicit photographs of the children, and sent explicit pictures of infants and toddlers to undercover officers.
Davis has long vocally opposed sexual assault. He co-founded Youth to End Sexual Violence in 2014, an organization dedicated to “eliminating the use of rape and sexual violence in conflict,” and currently serves as their Executive Director and US Representative. He is also the chairman of the International Campaign to Stop Rape and Gender Violence in Conflict. He was a UN Youth Ambassador on Sexual Violence in Conflict for 2 years, chaired the International Campaign to Stop Rape, and co-chaired the International Campaign to Stop Rape Steering Committee, part of the Nobel Women’s Initiative. He wrote about the issue as a columnist for the Columbia Daily Spectator in 2017 and in a 2014 HuffPost op-ed.
FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge William F. Sweeney Jr. said Davis displayed “the highest degree of hypocrisy in his alleged attempts to exploit multiple minors.”
Davis’s charges hold mandatory minimum federal sentences ranging from 5 to 15 years, while the maximum sentences range from 20 years to a life sentence.
Youth to End Sexual Violence and the International Campaign to Stop Rape and Gender Violence in Conflict have been reached out to for comment.
Update, June 28, 9:45 pm: Leaders of the International Campaign to Stop Rape & Gender Violence in Conflict posted a statement on the coalition’s Facebook page earlier today, announcing that Davis is no longer the campaign’s coordinator and that his organization, Youth to End Sexual Violence, has been removed from the coalition of groups in the campaign. In the statement, the campaign’s leaders expressed shock and horror at Davis’ alleged actions, and said that they “stand firmly by the children and families allegedly hurt by these acts.” The statement concludes: “We remain committed–today more than ever–to the urgent work and mission of the campaign: to end sexual violence wherever it occurs.” The full statement is included below.
Press release from US Attorney’s Office of the Southern District of New York
Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and William F. Sweeney Jr., the Assistant Director-in-Charge of the New York Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), announced today the arrest of JOEL DAVIS on charges of enticement of a minor to engage in sexual activity, attempted sexual exploitation of a minor, and possession, receipt, and distribution of child pornography. DAVIS was arrested today and will be presented today in Manhattan federal court before the Honorable Kevin N. Fox.
U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said: “Joel Davis started an organization devoted to stopping sexual violence, while allegedly engaged in the duplicitous behavior of sharing explicit images of infants engaged in sexual activity. Davis also allegedly solicited an undercover officer – whom he thought to be a willing participant – to send sexually explicit videos of his nine-year-old daughter, and even to set up a sexual encounter between himself and a two-year-old. 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. said: “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. As if this wasn’t repulsive enough, Davis allegedly possessed and distributed utterly explicit images of innocent infants and toddlers being sexually abused by adults. 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.”
According to the allegations in the Complaint sworn out today in Manhattan federal court and statements made during court proceedings:
Over the course of several weeks in June 2018, DAVIS, who started an organization devoted to ending sexual violence, exchanged text messages with law enforcement officers operating in an undercover capacity. During the course of these conversations, DAVIS told the undercover officers that he was sexually interested in children of all ages. DAVIS sent the undercover officers sexually explicit photographs of infants and toddlers, including photographs in which the infants and toddlers were engaged in sexual activity with adults. During the course of text conversations with one of the undercover officers, DAVIS described explicit sexual activity that he intended to engage in with the purported nine-year-old daughter of the undercover officer and with the purported two-year-old daughter of the undercover officer’s girlfriend. DAVIS also repeatedly asked that undercover officer to take naked and sexually explicit pictures and videos of his purported daughter and his purported girlfriend’s toddler daughter and to send the pictures and videos to DAVIS.
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DAVIS, 22, of Manhattan, New York, is charged with one count of enticement of a minor under the age of 18 to engage in sexual activity, which carries a mandatory minimum term of 10 years in prison and a maximum of life in prison; one count of attempted sexual exploitation of a minor, which carries a mandatory minimum term of 15 years in prison and a maximum of 30 years in prison; one count of possession of child pornography, which carries a mandatory minimum term of 5 years in prison and a maximum of 20 years in prison; and one count of receipt and distribution of child pornography, which carries a maximum term of imprisonment of 20 years in prison. The maximum potential sentences in this case are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the judge.
This case is being handled by the Office’s General Crimes Unit. Assistant United States Attorney Juliana N. Murray is in charge of the prosecution.
The charges contained in the Complaint are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
 As the introductory phrase signifies, the entirety of the text of the Complaint and the description of the Complaint set forth herein constitute only allegations, and every fact described should be treated as an allegation.
Statement from the International Campaign to Stop Rape & Gender Violence in Conflict:
Yesterday, we learned of the arrest and grave charges of child sexual abuse against Joel Davis, former volunteer coordinator of the International Campaign to Stop Rape and Gender Violence in Conflict.
As a coalition of organizations working directly to end sexual violence, we are deeply shaken, shocked, and appalled by these revelations. We stand firmly by the children and families allegedly hurt by these acts.
These allegations are intolerable with respect to anyone – even more so when the alleged perpetrator is an individual whose young career was built on advocating against sexual violence.
Effective yesterday, June 27, 2018, Mr. Davis is no longer the coordinator of the Campaign and his organization has been removed from the coalition. Mr. Davis coordinated the Campaign on a voluntary basis since 2017 on behalf of his organization. As with many of our initiatives and responsibilities within the coalition, the coordinator role has always been a shared responsibility among the member organizations and the steering committee is working to appoint a new interim coordinator.
We remain committed ––today more than ever–– to the urgent work and mission of the campaign: to end sexual violence wherever it occurs.
We express our full support for a thorough investigation by the appropriate authorities.