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Activist who fought to end sexual violence, arrested for child sex crimes

NEW YORK — A Columbia University student, well-known for his global campaign to end sexual violence, was arrested Tuesday for committing multiple sex crimes against young children.

Joel Davis, 22, who launched the “Youth to End Sexual Violence” organization in 2014, appeared in Manhattan federal court Thursday.

Davis was charged with sex crimes for allegedly sharing explicit images of young children and enticing a minor to engage in sexual acts.

“The conduct alleged against Joel Davis is as unfathomable as it is sickening,” U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said Tuesday.

Law enforcement investigated Davis after he posted an advertisement to a website that is frequented by “people sexually interested in children.”

Officers went undercover and exchanged text messages with Davis for weeks throughout May and June.

In the text conversations obtained by the attorney’s office, Davis revealed that he was sexually interested in children of all ages and shared images of sexually abused infants as young as 2.

Officials say Davis also repeatedly asked an undercover officer to take sexually explicit pictures and videos of his daughters, who are ages two and nine.

“Having started an organization that pushed for the end of sexual violence, Davis displayed the highest degree of hypocrisy,” FBI assistant director William F. Sweeney Jr. said.

Davis describes himself as a “human rights defender” on his Twitter page. In April, he tweeted about a speech he was giving in NYC for “TEDx,” regarding sexual violence.

Davis is charged with one count of enticement of a minor under the age of 18 to engage in sexual activity,  attempted sexual exploitation of a minor,  possession of child pornography and receipt and distribution of child pornography.

“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,” said Sweeney.