Old Dominion students, parents, alumni and many more have raised quite the stir this weekend after an assistant professor at the University published a book that calls for the destigmatization of pedophilia.
Allyn Walker is a non-binary assistant professor of Sociology and Criminal Justice who has been working at the Unviersity since 2019. Their book, titled A Long Dark Shadow, was published by the University of California Press and promoted by the Prostasia Foundation, an organization that claims to be “a new kind of child protection organization,” as they believe in acceptance of those who may have an attraction to minors but don’t act on impulse.
In the book, Walker defends adults who are sexually attracted to minors, claiming that as long as they don’t act on their attraction, it’s not “immoral.”
“We have a tendency to want to categorize people with these kinds of attractions as evil or morally corrupt,” Walker said in his interview with the Prostasia Foundation. “But when we’re talking about non-offending MAPs, these are people who have an attraction they didn’t ask for.”
The term “MAPs” refers to “minor-attracted persons,” which is the term used in this book to introduce these adults who are attracted to minors.
Old Dominion has found itself under fire after the interview with Walker came out on Nov. 8 with some local news channels breaking the story over the weekend. Social media has exploded with outrage which has caused the issue to start to gain some national attention. Many are calling for the firing of Walker. In only one day, a Change.org petition to remove Walker has gained just shy of 1,000 signatures, with users citing their reasons for signing.
“Pedophiles do not deserve sympathy or a platform of any sort. They thrive off power structures,” said one signer.
Another has said, “Do not support the man who insists that pedophilia is a sexual orientation. It’s an insult to the entire LGBTQ+ community and what they have worked so hard for.”
The University released a statement Saturday morning saying that “an academic community plays a valuable role in the quest for knowledge,” before including a statement from Walker themself.
“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,” said Walker. “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.”
The statement concluded by saying that the University “does not endorse or promote crimes against children or any form of criminal activity.”
The statement did not sit right for many. On Twitter, there are 605 comments under the University’s tweet in regard to releasing the statement and the number continues to grow.
One twitter user replied, “As an ODU alum, I’m shocked and embarrassed.” While another said, “This is horribly weak. If you can’t condemn adults preying on children, you don’t deserve state funding.”
While the University has not indicated that they will be taking action against Walker, it’s clear that this is a conflict that is still very much playing out.
Be sure to check back on the HerCampus.com/ODU website this week for updates on the situation.