14 November 2023

Davidson knew about sexual misconduct 'rumours' against Johnathan Davis a week before ACT Greens leader

| Claire Fenwicke
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ACT Election Declaration of Results. Emma Davidson Greens

Johnathan Davis and Emma Davidson were known to be good friends. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

It’s been revealed Mental Health Minister Emma Davidson knew about allegations that former ACT Greens MLA Johnathan Davis was engaging in “inappropriate behaviour with younger people” a week before the Attorney-General was told.

The ACT Greens released a report outlining the timing of the internal investigation undertaken by the party into the complaints.

It was revealed Ms Davidson had texted a Greens staffer on Sunday, 29 October, that she had a “serious issue” she needed to raise.

The following day, Ms Davidson and two other staff members let this person know there were “rumours” Mr Davis was “engaging in inappropriate behaviour with younger people”.

“[The rumour stated] it was possible that some of those people might be between 15 and 17,” the report noted.

“At this point, those rumours could not be substantiated and there were no individuals coming forward with any specific information.”

The staffers were told if they suspected illegal activity had taken place, they should report it to police.

“We also considered that because Mr Davis was an out, proud and sex-positive gay man – with a strong community presence, that we needed to ensure that we had facts around this case, and that we could not act on rumour alone,” the report noted.

“We wanted to ensure both that he received natural justice and that were the rumour to be baseless, he did not have his public reputation tarnished or questioned.”

READ ALSO Johnathan Davis sexual misconduct allegations referred to ACT Integrity Commission

Mr Davis had been out of the Territory during this time, and concerns were raised that if he was spoken with over the phone, he could contact any alleged victims or remove evidence. His mental health was also under consideration, given he was out of the area and “isolated” from his usual support networks.

“We thought first of the potential victims, our obligation to them and any support we might need to provide,” the report noted.

“We then thought of the personal and political consequences for Mr Davis – which were and are very serious. We then considered the possibility that this accusation did not have associated victims or victim-survivors.”

Further discussions were had between staff members and Ms Davidson – including taking the allegations to the Greens’ executive chief of staff on Monday, 30 October – until Mr Davis returned to work on Monday, 6 November.

At 8:40 that morning, the staffer and Ms Davidson met with Mr Davis to outline the allegation, after which they shared the information with Attorney-General and leader of the ACT Greens, Shane Rattenbury.

The internal review began on Tuesday, 7 November, and staff members were able to meet with the now 18-year-old complainant on the same day at the ANU.

photo gallery of MLAs

The gallery of MLAs for Brindabella has already been updated in the Assembly following the resignation of Mr Davis last night. Photo: Claire Fenwicke.

According to the report, the findings from this meeting included that Mr Davis was “apparently particularly known to have a preference for younger people”, alleged Mr Davis had set his age filters on dating app Grindr to 18-19, that this complainant “did not see himself as a victim” and all activity had been “consensual”, but Mr Davis was aware that at the time they met he was 17 years old, and that they had been involved earlier this year.

“[The complainant] drew parallels between Mr Davis’ sexual behaviour and the Brittany Higgins and Bruce Lehrmann case at Parliament House, and that what Mr Davis was doing could amount to an abuse of power,” the report noted.

“This was his view – and gave a sense of the perspective from which he was now seeing his previous experiences.

“He said that there might be further such allegations made by several young men, and he didn’t elaborate further on this point.”

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Based on this information, it was determined no illegal activity had occurred given the messages between Mr Davis and the complainant, while explicit, were consensual and in the context of an ongoing relationship.

“This did not appear to be an obvious breach in the law. It appears that photos were exchanged, but at a time after which both parties had engaged in a physical relationship,” the report noted.

“At this point, it was clear that Mr Davis knew that this party was 17 and not 18 because on 8 December 2022 he shared a COVID certificate with a birth date confirming his age.”

The staffer appeared unsure whether illegal conduct had occurred around the sharing of intimate images involving a person under the age of 18, and the allegations about other relationships with children younger than 16 were “unsubstantiated”.

However, they chose to report the matter to police on Friday, 10 November, “given a lack of clarity on our mandatory reporting obligations”.

“ACT Policing assured me that they would, in the first instance, talk to the person making the accusations and seek their advice on how they wished to proceed,” the report noted.

“I was concerned enough by the content of the material and also felt that our organisation was not equipped to appropriately investigate the allegations being made, that I felt it necessary to report the matter to police.”

It concluded that while Mr Davis had undertaken activity that could be considered “unethical and inappropriate”, his behaviour didn’t align with community expectations and could bring both himself and the party into “disrepute”.

Mr Davis resigned from his position and relinquished his party membership on Sunday (12 November) night.

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