Tuesday, December 7, 2021
HomeCampus LifeODU Professor Resigns Amid Pedophile Research Controversy

ODU Professor Resigns Amid Pedophile Research Controversy

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Dr. Allyn Walker, the Old Dominion University (ODU) professor at the center of controversy for his recent comments on adults attracted to underage people, has submitted his resignation

Walker announced that he would be stepping down following the backlash over his research on pedophilia and people who are sexually attracted to children. 

In his book, “A Long, Dark Shadow: Minor-Attracted People and Their Pursuit of Dignity,” the criminal justice professor expressed that there should be a change in the way the public refers to “minor-attracted persons” who don’t act on their urges. 

His views were criticized by ODU students and others who argued that moving away from such terms could destigmatize, and perhaps direct sympathy, towards sexual predators. 

ODU President Brian Hemphill said that Walker’s resignation is necessary, given the school’s “obligation to maintain a safe and conducive learning environment” for community members.

“I want to state in the strongest terms possible that child sexual abuse is morally wrong and has no place in our society,” said Hemphill. “This is a challenging time for our University, but I am confident that we will come together and move forward as a Monarch family.”

Wrong or Right?

Despite growing support for his removal, a few researchers have defended Walker and claimed that the public has misunderstood the purpose of the research. 

In a letter addressed to Hemphill, around 60 professors with expertise on sexual abuse prevention and human sexuality and criminology wrote that in order to eradicate sexual abuse, we must first gain complete understanding of the problem.

“We affirm both our strong stance against the abuse of children and other vulnerable people, and our strong support for Professor Allyn Walker, their important and ground-breaking research, and their freedom as an academic to explore topics that may spur controversy or discomfort,” the letter read.

Research findings that could contradict popular assumptions are part of the process. In the case of Dr. Walker, the letter emphasized “the distinction between attraction to children and sexual abuse of children. 

“Not everyone who is attracted to children abuses children, and not everyone who abuses children is sexually attracted to children,” Walker’s supporters stated.

Since the controversy, Walker has been placed on administrative leave. He will remain on leave until his current contract expires in May of next year. 

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