Virginia Professor Who Studies Pedophilia Resigns After Uproar

Allyn Walker, Old Dominion University to part ways
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 25, 2021 10:50 AM CST
Prof Who Studies Adults Attracted to Minors Leaving Job
Flowers bloom in front of Old Dominion University on March 12, 2020, in Norfolk, Va.   (Stephen M. Katz/The Virginian-Pilot via AP)

An assistant professor of criminal justice and sociology at Virginia's Old Dominion University will part ways with the school after their research on "minor-attracted people" (or MAPs) generated outrage. NBC News reports Allyn Walker published the book A Long, Dark Shadow: Minor-Attracted People and Their Pursuit of Dignity in June; the AP reports it contains interviews with more than 40 adults who are sexually attracted to minors. In a subsequent interview, Walker had this to say, and it didn't go over well: "I think we have a tendency to want to categorize people with these attractions as evil or morally corrupt. But when we're talking about non-offending MAPs, these are people who have an attraction that they didn't ask for. And one that frequently they would do anything to change."

"But they find that they're unable to change those attractions," Walker continued. "And most importantly, the people in my study did not act on them." The Washington Post reports Walker's research into MAPs and their very use of that label generated outrage, with students and others arguing the term destigmatizes sex offenders. Nearly 15,000 people signed a petition demanding Walker's removal from the university. It reads in part, "We want to be clear that this is pedophilia and should not be considered a sexual preference. Being that they teach in the sociology and criminal justice department makes us worried their views will effect the next generation in a negative way."

Walker argues the goal of their work is actually to prevent child sex abuse by better understanding would-be sex offenders. Walker, who's transgender, was placed on administrative leave Nov. 16, and will remain there until their contract expires in May. The local chapter of the American Association of University Professors said the response to Walker's research was understandable, especially among those who were child victims, but that Walker did produce "meaningful, rigorous research" that had "the consistent, clear aim of preventing future abuse to minors." (More Old Dominion University stories.)

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