NORFOLK, Va. - Dr. Allyn Walker, an Old Dominion University assistant professor who came under fire following a controversial interview where they defended non-offending pedophiles, announced Wednesday that they will step down from their position when their contract expires in May 2022.
Walker, an assistant professor of sociology and criminal justice, will remain on leave until that time.
In an interview with the Prostasia Foundation regarding their book, "A Long Dark Shadow: Minor-Attracted People and Their Pursuit of Dignity," Walker concluded that it is "never OK to abuse a child," but argued that there is no morality attached to attraction towards children as long as it isn't acted on.
Walker's comments garnered nationwide attention, and they were put on leave after reactions to their research and book led to concerns for both their and the campus' safety.
"We have concluded that this outcome is the best way to move forward," ODU President Brian O. Hemphill, Ph.D., said. "We hope today's action helps bring closure for our Monarch family. As we move forward, I encourage all members of the Monarch family to continue our efforts toward healing and civil discourse."
"My scholarship aims to prevent child sexual abuse," Walker said. "That research was mischaracterized by some in the media and online, partly on the basis of my trans identity. As a result, multiple threats were made against me and the campus community generally. I want to thank Old Dominion University for giving me the opportunity to teach and to conduct my research, and the ODU Department of Public Safety for monitoring the threats against me and the community.
"I am particularly grateful for the outpouring of support from many among the ODU community, as well as others in my research fields who have publicly affirmed the value of my work in advancing child safety. My Department Chair, Mona Danner, my colleagues, and my students all have been especially supportive. And, finally, I am thankful for the assistance of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) during this time."
"The safety and security of individual Monarchs and our collective campus are of the utmost importance," Hemphill said. "For ODU, these will always remain top priorities as we pursue our mission in a caring, inclusive, and supportive community, one that respects academic freedom and remains willing to discuss controversial ideas in an atmosphere free of intimidation or violence."