Old Dominion U. Places Prof on Leave After Pedophile Defense

Old Dominion Prof Allyn Walker
Allyn Walker

Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia, has put a professor on leave after he claimed that sexual attraction to children is not always immoral, and that he wants to destigmatize pedophiles by referring to them as “minor-attracted persons” (MAPs), instead.

Old Dominion professor Allyn Walker — who wrote a book, titled, A Long Dark Shadow: Minor-Attracted People and Their Pursuit of Dignity — has been put on leave after a recent video interview of the professor defending pedophiles went viral on social media.

In the video, Walker explained that he uses the term “Minor-Attracted Person” or “MAP” when referring to pedophiles in the title and throughout his book, “because I think it’s important to use terminology for groups that members of that group want others to use for them.”

The professor added that “MAP advocacy groups” have advocated for use of the term “primarily because it’s less stigmatizing than other terms like, ‘pedophile.'”

“A lot of people, when they hear the term pedophile, they automatically assume that it means a sex offender, and that isn’t true. And it leads to a lot of misconceptions about attractions toward minors,” Walker added.

The professor also addressed those who say using a term like “Minor-Attracted Person” suggests that “it’s okay to be attracted to children,” by arguing that “using a term that communicates who someone is attracted to doesn’t indicate anything about the morality of that attraction.”

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On Tuesday evening, after the video went viral, the university released a statement saying that “Old Dominion University has placed Dr. Allyn Walker on administrative leave, effective immediately, from their position as assistant professor of sociology and criminal justice.”

“Reactions to Dr. Walker’s research and book have led to concerns for their safety and that of the campus,” the university added. “Furthermore, the controversy over Dr. Walker’s research has disrupted the campus and community environment and is interfering with the institution’s mission of teaching and learning.”

The university also clarified that “the actions we are taking today are motivated by our obligation to maintain a safe and conducive learning environment for our students, faculty, and staff.”

Old Dominion’s leave announcement came after an initial statement the university made on Saturday, in which the school appeared to defend Walker, stating that “an academic community plays a valuable role in the quest for knowledge,” and that “a vital part” of this is being willing to consider data “that may involve controversial issues and perspectives.”

The school then shared a statement from Walker, who said, “I want to be clear: child sexual abuse is morally wrong and inexcusable crime. As an assistant professor of sociology and criminal justice, the goal of my research is to prevent crime.”

“My work is informed by my past experience and advocacy as a social worker counseling victims,” Walker added. “I embarked on this research in hopes of gaining understanding of a group that, previously, has not been studied in order to identify ways to protect children.”

The university also insisted that it is “a caring and inclusive community” that “does not endorse or promote crimes against children or any form of criminal activity.”

Walker’s bio in “Experiences of Trans Scholars in Criminology and Criminal Justice” indicates that the professor is “queer” and “nonbinary trans.”

The abstract of the professor’s book also says the following:

Challenging widespread assumptions that persons who are preferentially attracted to minors — often referred to as “pedophiles” — are necessarily also predators and sex offenders, this book takes readers into the lives of non-offending minor-attracted persons (MAPs). There is little research into non-offending MAPs, a group whose experiences offer valuable insights into the prevention of child abuse. Navigating guilt, shame, and fear, this universally maligned group demonstrates remarkable resilience and commitment to living without offending and to supporting and educating others.

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You can follow Alana Mastrangelo on Facebook and Twitter at @ARmastrangelo, and on Instagram.

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