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ODU puts assistant professor on administrative leave following controversial interview defending people attracted to children

ODU Walker Protest
ODU Walker Protest
Old Dominion University Police investigate third case of sexual assault this semester
Posted at 6:29 PM, Nov 16, 2021

NORFOLK, Va. - Old Dominion University placed Dr. Allyn Walker on administrative leave from their position as assistant professor of sociology and criminal justice after a controversial interview they gave defending people attracted to children went viral and garnered nationwide attention.

In an interview with the Prostasia Foundation, 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.

The interview revolved around their book, "A Long Dark Shadow: Minor-Attracted People and Their Pursuit of Dignity," described as "a study of non-offending, minor-attracted persons."

"Having an attraction to minors, as long as it isn’t acted on, doesn’t mean that the person who has those attractions is doing something wrong," Walker told the Prostasia Foundation. They continued, saying that people with a sexual attraction to minors "would [cause] a lot of harm" if they acted on it, but that there is a "big difference" between those people and child sexual abusers.

According to the school, reactions to Walker's research and book have led to concerns for both their and the campus' safety, and the controversy over Walker's research is interfering with ODU's mission of teaching and learning.

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

The university says that Walker will not be on campus and will not be interacting with students.

News 3 has also asked the University if Walker is on leave with or without pay and we are waiting for a response.

Hemphill's full statement is as follows:

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. 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.

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

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.

A group of ODU professors, who wish to stay anonymous, have come together in support of Walker. They have released the following statement to News 3:

"Some faculty are concerned about the ways that dr walkers research has been mischaracterized by the media. Dr. Walker's research is motivated by keeping children safe, while some of us may disagree with different aspects of Dr Walker's research, we are alarmed we cant have these conversations openly without death threats"


ODU's Asterisk Trans Advisory Board also released a statement denouncing the "misappropriation of queer experiences" in Walker's book, saying that the controversy generated by Walker's research "innately included and simultaneously maligned [the trans community] without our consent."

The LGBT Life Center told News 3 that the organization "supports higher learning, studies, and questions around controversial topics so that we can better understand people and our world." They also went on to say that "if anyone is having unhealthy thoughts about children, we recommend seeking immediate help before harm comes to any child, any person or our community at large."

Some students on campus have shown their standpoint on the Walker's comments using graffiti.

ODU Walker Protest
ODU Walker Protest