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Activist for child sex abuse victims sentenced to 13 years in jail for child rape

Joel Davis was sentenced to 13 years in prison on Tuesday for ‘enticing a child to engage in illegal sexual activity,’ and possession and distribution of child pornography charges. He is seen here taking a selfie for his Instagram

The founder of an organization dedicated to ending child sex abuse has been sentenced to 13 years in prison on child rape and child pornography charges.

Joel Davis, 25, was convicted of ‘enticing a child to engage in illegal sexual activity,’ possession and distribution of child pornography, US Attorney for the Southern District of New York Audrey Strauss announced on Tuesday. 

He is set to spend the first five years following his prison sentence on ‘supervised release.’ 

Davis, who had founded the nonprofit Youth to End Sexual Violence in 2014, had previously pleaded guilty to the rape and pornography charges.

In his plea Davis ‘admitted to engaging in the very abhorrent behavior he had pledged to fight,’ Strauss said.  

‘Davis, who also claims to be a Nobel Prize nominee for his work with his organization, engaged in sex acts with a minor, recording them and distributing that recording to others – including an undercover FBI agent.

‘Sex with minors is obviously never permissible, acceptable or justifiable,’ she continued, ‘and by virtue of his nonprofit work, Joel Davis was acutely aware of the irreparable harm these crimes inflict on victims.’ 

Davis had previously said he had been sexually assaulted as a child and spoke about the psychological impact it had in a 2017 op-ed for the Columbia Spectator

Davis had previously said he had been sexually assaulted as a child and spoke about the psychological impact it had in a 2017 op-ed for the Columbia Spectator 

Davis has previously claimed to be a child sexual abuse victim himself, writing in a 2017 op-ed for the Columbia Spectator about the psychological damage it inflicted on him. 

He wrote that when he had learned he was nominated for a Nobel Prize for his work with the Youth to End Sexual Violence organization, he had to take a break from the Columbia University School of General Studies, where he majored in Ancient Studies.

‘It was another year before I attended my first class,’ Davis wrote at the time. ‘Without having established any roots, I returned to Columbia unnerved.

‘Those of us who have experienced such trials usually have gravitated toward people like us for support, validation and collective identity,’ he explained, ‘but because the indicators of trauma are invisible, we’re often forced to cope with its psychological shadow alone.’

Prior to the arrest, he was a featured speaker at a Columbia University Ted Talk

Prior to the arrest, he was a featured speaker at a Columbia University Ted Talk 

Davis founded the nonprofit Youth to End Sexual Violence in 2014

Davis founded the nonprofit Youth to End Sexual Violence in 2014

Just one year later, though, the Federal Bureau of Investigation began investigating Davis, after he answered an advertisement officials posted on a fetish website with the username ‘yngperv22.’

He then began talking to an undercover FBI agent, authorities report, sending him explicit images of infants and toddlers engaged in sexual acts with adults, and telling him he was interested in children ‘0+,’ Buzzfeed News reported at the time.

He was also alleged to have told the undercover agent he once tried to have sex with a seven-year-old boy, but ultimately didn’t, but had once sexually assaulted a three-year-old girl. 

The 2018 indictment claimed Davis then asked the undercover agent to set up his nine-year-old daughter with the agent’s purported girlfriend’s two-year-old daughter and take sexually explicit pictures of them.

In June 2018, officials said, he used a dating application on his phone to entice a 15-year-old boy to engage in sexual activity with him at his Manhattan apartment, and used the phone to film part of the encounter, which he then sent to at least two others – including the undercover FBI agent.

By the time he was arrested on June 26, 2018, officials said he had more than 3,700 images and more than 330 videos of child pornography including ‘numerous’ images of prepubescent minors under the age of 12, which he received and distributed to others.

‘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,’ FBI Assistant Director in Charge William F. Sweeney Jr. said in a statement at the time.

Davis pleaded guilty to the charges in January 2020. 


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