Who Is Joel Davis, Really?

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by Elizabeth Vos, Disobedient Media:

UPDATE: 7/1/18: Shortly after publication, it came to our attention that the Campaign to Stop Rape and Gender Violence in Conflict had incorrectly referred to Joel Davis as a volunteer coordinator, when in fact he served as the Director of the Campaign. This article has been updated to reflect that change. 

Disobedient Media recently reported on the arrest of Joel Davis, Executive Director of Youth to End Sexual Violence and former Director of the Campaign to Stop Rape and Gender Violence in Conflict, who was arrested on chargesrelated to child pornography as well as an attempt to arrange the rape of a nine-year-old and two-year-old.

In the wake of our initial report, astounding questions have been raised about Davis’s history as well as that of the organization he founded. Disobedient Media has learned that Davis, 22, is a two-time college drop out, (from both American University and Columbia University) and was pursuing a third attempt at completing his undergraduate degree at the time of his arrest.

Upon examination, it appears that Youth to End Sexual Violence (Davis’s NGO) is no longer a registered 501c charity. Records show that the 501c status of Youth to End Sexual Violence was revoked in May 2017 due to the group failing to submit relevant tax forms for three consecutive years.

Given the fact that the organization was founded in 2014, it would follow that the group never submitted the 990-series form required by the IRS. This finding adds to the general lack of concrete information given by the NGO’s website, which provides no identification regarding staff, no address, and generally appears to have been run by Davis himself with the contribution of a handful of international bloggers.

Such revocation may not seem all that surprising given recent events surrounding Davis. However, the importance of the NGO’S defunct 501c status extends far beyond Davis’s charity and his reputation.

In 2017, the International Campaign to Stop Rape and Gender Violence in Conflict, a coalition of highly reputable humanitarian aid groups, put themselves under the leadership of Davis’s (defunct) Youth To End Sexual Violence charity, and at an unknown date, had appointed Davis as Director of the entire Campaign. This decision to “restructure” under the leadership of the Charity Davis headed occurred in the same year that this same NGO lost 501c status.

As previously noted by Disobedient Media, the coalition’s Steering Committee includes highly respected organizations, such as: Human Rights Watch, Physicians for Human Rights, the Dr. Denis Mukwege Foundation, the Nobel Women’s Initiative, the Global Fund for Women, Youth to End Sexual Violence, The Italian Mine Campaign, Promundo, Every Woman Everywhere, Sofepadi, and Change Center for Health and Gender Equity. In addition to the involvement of these respected entities, the coalition itself was said to be made up of 5,000 organizations and individuals.

The Campaign to Stop Rape and Gender Violence in Conflict released the following statement in the wake of Davis’s arrest, in which they failed to address the leadership role of his defunct charity at the head of the entire coalition and incorrectly described him as a volunteer coordinator, despite having earlier described him as Director of the Campaign.

 

Although the press release describes Davis as a: “Former volunteer coordinator of the International Campaign to Stop Rape and Gender Violence In Conflict,” this appears to be an outright fabrication. The Campaign referred to Davis as the Director of the  Campaign as recently as April of this year, when he gave a TEDx lecture where he also referred to himself as Director of the Campaign.

The press release also fails to discuss the fact that the already-defunct charity served as the helm of their entire coalition. Press reports have repeatedly described Davis as the Chairman of the Campaign, and it is unclear at this time whether the moniker was incorrectly applied, or referred to his role at the head of the NGO which led said Coalition. In 2015, NBC reported that Davis had been appointed to the Board of the Directors of the Campaign to Stop Rape and Gender Violence.

 

Lars Anderson, the media contact included in the press release, is a co-founder of BlueDot Strategies according to his LinkedIn profileBlueDot describes Anderson and fellow co-founder Moira Whelan as: “Former Federal Government insiders with international communications experience.” According to BlueDot, Anderson held: “Several senior-level appointments in the Obama Administration, most recently as the deputy chief of staff and counselor to the administrator at the Federal Emergency Management Agency.” Blue Dot adds that Anderson also served as director and spokesman for USAID, and was the NATO spokesman in Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina.

At the time of writing, the Campaign’s website still states: “In 2017, Campaign members voted unanimously to reorganize and restructure under the leadership of Davis’s Youth to End Sexual Violence, the first international organization of young survivors working in conflict countries.” That the coalition states that they unanimously voted to restructure under the leadership of Youth To End Sexual Violence in 2017 is astounding.

In light of all this, it is unavoidable to ask questions, including: How was it possible for a two-time college dropout to be appointed as the Director of a vast coalition of thousands of groups and individuals, with many member-organizations possessing entire legal departments and staff who could have easily recognized that Davis’s charity did not have 501c status? The Campaign describes itself as: “The first ever global collaboration between Nobel Laureates, NGOs, and Humanitarian experts to end sexual violence in conflict.”

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