Old Dominion, a public university located in Norfolk, Virginia, has placed an assistant professor on administrative leave following an intense community backlash after the publication of his research that appears to seek to normalize people being attracted to children.
The institution released through an official statement Tuesday night that Dr. Allyn Walker had been placed on leave “effective immediately” from his position as a professor at the university, Fox News reported.
The scandal broke after Walker published his research on pedophilia and people who are sexually attracted to children. The researcher called for a change in the way we should refer to “people attracted to children” who do not act on their attractions.
The professor highlighted the difference between those who repress their sexual desires for children and those who act accordingly; he says that only the latter should be considered criminals.
During an interview conducted on November 8, Walker expressly said that “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.”
The controversial interview focused on Walker’s book entitled: “A Long Dark Shadow: Minor-Attracted People and Their Pursuit of Dignity,” which is described as “a study of non-offending, minor-attracted persons.”
Neither the research nor the interview was well-received by much of the educational community. So much so that on Tuesday night, some students gathered on the university campus to protest, calling for Walker’s firing.
Amber Kennedy, a spokeswoman for the university, said in a statement released Tuesday night:
“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.”
He 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 president also issued a statement condemning child sexual abuse.
“I want to state in the strongest terms possible that child sexual abuse is morally wrong and has no place in our society,” said the institution’s president, Brian O. Hemphill.
Walker justified himself by saying that he condemns child abuse and that his research hopes to gain an understanding of a previously unstudied group, thereby protecting children and preventing crime.
However, students and authorities evidently did not accept Walker’s controversial analysis and consequently expressed their absolute rejection of the research and the professor’s remarks during the recently published interview.