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Disgraced Activist Who Started Nonprofit To End Sexual Violence Sentenced For Trying To Have Sex With Minors

Joel Davis, once a celebrated advocate who fought against sexual abuse of children, has been sentenced to prison for possessing child porn and trying to lure an underage boy to his apartment for sex.

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A man who founded a nonprofit to end sexual violence against children has been sentenced to more than a decade behind bars for possessing child porn and for trying to entice a boy to have sex with him.

Joel Davis, 25, was sentenced to 13 years in prison for enticing a child to engage in illegal sexual activity, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York announced Tuesday. Additionally, he received five years for possession of child pornography, and another five years for distribution and receipt of child pornography, all to be served concurrently. He had pleaded guilty to the charges in January of 2020.

Federal prosecutors said that Davis was using a dating app around June of 2018 “to entice a fifteen-year-old boy [...] to engage in sexual activity with him.” Davis invited the boy to his apartment in New York City for sex, knowing full well that the boy was a minor. The press release announcing his sentence states that Davis “used his smartphone to film a portion of that conduct and sent the video to at least two others, including an undercover FBI agent.”

While Davis was being questioned over the enticement allegations, investigators found “more than 3,700 images and more than 330 videos of child pornography, including numerous images of prepubescent minors who had not attained 12 years of age” in his possession. They say he also “received and distributed material containing child pornography using a cellphone.”

U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said in 2018 that Davis “solicited an undercover officer – whom he thought to be a willing participant – to send sexually explicit videos of his 9-year-old daughter, and even to set up a sexual encounter between himself and a 2-year-old.”

Davis was arrested in late June of 2018 as a result of all the findings.

“As he previously admitted, Joel Davis, founder of a nonprofit called ‘Youth to End Sexual Violence,’ admitted to engaging in the very abhorrent behavior he had publicly pledged to fight,” U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss said in a statement on Tuesday.

Davis was a student at Columbia University during his arrest, celebrated for his activism against childhood sexual abuse. He had claimed to have been sexually abused as a child and went on to create “Youth to End Sexual Violence.” He was chairman of the International Campaign to Stop Rape and Gender Violence in Conflict. His work and advocacy earned Davis, who grew up in Florida, a Nobel Prize nomination in 2015, Florida outlet News-Press reported in 2018. 

“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, and by virtue of his non-profit work, Joel Davis was acutely aware of the irreparable harm these crimes inflict on victims,” Strauss stated on Tuesday. “Davis will now serve a lengthy time in federal prison, where he can no longer victimize minors.”

When reached by phone on Wednesday, Davis’ lawyer Ian Howard Marcus Amelkin told Oxygen.com he would not be commenting on the case.

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