Activist Who Decried Child Sex Abuse Is Himself Charged
NEW YORK (AP) — A Columbia University student who campaigned at the United Nations and elsewhere against child sexual abuse on Friday was ordered detained until trial on sex crime charges involving children.
U.S. District Judge Andrew L. Carter Jr. cited the strength of the evidence and the mandatory minimum prison sentence of 15 years on one charge and 10 years on another if Joel Davis is convicted in the case that resulted in his Tuesday arrest. He called him a risk to flee and danger to the community.
He also offered to order Davis, 22, of Manhattan, put under suicide watch or in isolation to protect him, though a defense lawyer rejected the suggestions.
The judge said Davis was someone who "may have been viewed as stellar. Now he's vilified."
Federal authorities said Davis had sex with a 13-year-old boy and sought sexual images of children as young as 2.
"It appears the government does have a strong case," the judge said. "This case is more than child pornography."
Attorney Ian Marcus Amelkin said Davis was "not a danger" and "cares very deeply about human rights." He said Davis was in his final year at Columbia, though the school has said he cannot return to classes while charges are pending.
Amelkin told Carter that evidence showed that the boy his client was alleged to have been involved with had listed his age as 18.
"Mr. Davis did not know the age of the individual," Amelkin said.
He said some of the alleged behavior involved role playing rather than force or predatory behavior and some claims by Davis in online correspondence were false and similar to what others do when they want to seem "bigger or more experienced than they actually are."
The New York Times reported that a spokesman for the United Nations secretary general said Davis had attended several U.N. events over the years and U.N. officials were "appalled" by the allegations.
In a November column for the Columbia Spectator, Davis described himself as a rape victim and discussed its effects.
In a statement, Columbia said "the allegations in this matter are unfathomable and deeply disturbing."
In a release after Davis was arrested, U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman said charges included accusations Davis solicited an undercover officer he thought was a willing participant to send sexually explicit videos of his 9-year-old daughter and tried to set up a sexual encounter between himself and a 2-year-old.
"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," he said.
Information from: The New York Times, http://www.nytimes.com