A Virginia university assistant professor is making headlines after his controversial comments on sexual attraction to children and minors, sparking school officials to release a statement to clarify his claims.
Allyn Walker is a criminal justice and sociology assistant professor at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia, who recently had an interview with Prostasia Foundation, a child protection organization based in San Francisco. The professor, who identifies as "non-binary," was promoting his book, "A Long Dark Shadow: Minor-Attracted People and Their Pursuit of Dignity" when he made some questionable remarks.
"A lot of people when they hear the term 'pedophile,' they automatically assume that it means a sex offender, and that isn't true," Walker said during his interview, as reported by the New York Post. "And it leads to a lot of misconceptions about attractions towards minors."
Walker insisted that the term "minor-attracted" should be used instead of "pedophile" because it is less stigmatizing. He also acknowledged that using the term "minor-attracted persons" or MAPS suggests the normalization of attraction to children. However, he believes that labeling individuals based on their sexual desires does not indicate anything about the person's morality.
Walker argued, "there is no morality or immorality attached to attraction to anyone because no one can control who they're attracted to at all." The Virginia professor added that it's not who one person is attracted to that is "OK or not OK," but instead the "behaviors in responding to that attraction" that should be judged as acceptable or not.
Walker underscored that child sex abuse is "never, ever OK," but that having sexual desire toward children isn't necessarily unacceptable, as long as the desires are not acted upon.
"We have a tendency to want to categorize people with these attractions as evil or morally corrupt," Walker defended people who are sexually attracted to children. "But when we're talking about non-offending MAPs, these are people who have an attraction they didn't ask for."
Walker argued that non-offending MAPS, by its very definition, do not sexually abuse children, which is why they must not be labeled as pedophiles. He called their behaviors "moral." The Virginia professor also defended them, saying that they were victims who were "being subjected to this same idea that they're bad people and they've often internalized that for themselves."
According to 13 News Now, The Prostasia Foundation's Executive Director Jeremy Malcolm shared Walker's belief, arguing that being attracted to children "isn't actually a choice." He said that according to science, some people are born with that condition. The challenge, he said, was how to prevent these people from committing a crime by abusing children. Malcolm added that Walker argued, "Telling these people that they're inherently bad and doomed to offend is counterproductive."
Andrew Lambakis, the president of the ODU College Republicans, was "surprised and shocked" to hear the comments of Walker. He said he was "thinking about planning a peaceful protest against Allyn Walker."
Meanwhile, the Virginia university has released a statement to reiterate that "Old Dominion, as a caring and inclusive community, does not endorse or promote crimes against children or any form of criminal activity."