NORFOLK, Va. - Old Dominion University released a statement after one of its assistant professors gave a controversial interview defending people attracted to children.
In the interview, which was published by the Prostasia Foundation, Dr. Allyn 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 is an assistant professor of sociology and criminal justice. 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.
The interview sparked a social media backlash and received national attention.
ODU's statement is as follows:
An academic community plays a valuable role in the quest for knowledge. A vital part of this is being willing to consider scientific and other empirical data that may involve controversial issues and perspectives. Following a recent interview that gained national attention, Dr. Allyn Walker has released the following statement.
"I want to be clear: child sexual abuse is an inexcusable crime. As an assistant professor of sociology and criminal justice, the goal of my research is to prevent crime. My work is informed by my past experience and advocacy as a social worker counseling victims. I embarked on this research in hopes of gaining understanding of a group that, previously, has not been studied in order to identify ways to protect children."
Following recent social media activity and direct outreach to the institution, it is important to share that Old Dominion, as a caring and inclusive community, does not endorse or promote crimes against children or any form of criminal activity.
Students at Old Dominion have mixed feelings about Walker’s controversial comments.
"Honestly it just sounds gross. Just because you’re not acting on it, to acknowledge it is weird and not okay at all. It feels uncomfortable to know that someone’s like that on campus," Jaelan Jackson, an Old Dominion student, said.
Other students don’t believe Walker’s beliefs outside of work should interfere with his role as a professor.
"I don’t think that it reflects poorly on the school, but I do think it's weird that we have a professor that would think that," Jonathan Mukmuye, an Old Dominion student, said.
"I think it more has to say about the individual itself instead of the university," Nick Fehrer, an Old Dominion student, told News 3's Leondra Head.
Walker has been a professor at Old Dominion University since 2019.