A US college professor whose research into pedophilia has sparked a storm of controversy, including threats of violence and accusations that the academic has championed child abuse, is set to resign from his post at the ‘school.
In a joint statement released Wednesday, Old Dominion University in Virginia said sociology professor Allyn Walker would resign when his contract expires next May and that they would remain on leave until that date. The professor, who identifies as transgender, also defended their research in the joint missive, insisting that it had been misinterpreted by the public.
“My scholarship aims to prevent sexual abuse of children”, Walker said, claiming their job was “Distorted by some in the media and online, in part based on my trans identity. “
As a result, multiple threats were made against me and the campus community in general.
Walker sparked a major public scandal earlier this year after publishing a book called “A Long, Dark Shadow”. Parts of the work attempted to distinguish predators and child sex offenders from so-called “People attracted to minors” (or MAP) which do not act on (what Walker argues) innate sexual tendencies.
However, in addition to this controversial premise, the book also argued for the need to ‘de-stigmatize’ MAPs and discussed their “Pursuit of dignity” – a line that appears in the work’s subtitle – creating massive backlash, including accusations that Walker defended pedophilia.
The professor was put on leave earlier this month amid outrage, with the university saying “The controversy over Dr. Walker’s research has disrupted the campus and community environment and interferes with the institution’s teaching and learning mission.
Although Walker found a veritable army of detractors online, some fellow academics have come to their defense, with more than 70 researchers and professors signing a joint letter in support of their work. The co-signers argued that understanding complex issues like sexual abuse “requires [the] dissemination of research results even when they contradict popular assumptions ”, and even echoed Walker’s claim that “Not everyone who is attracted to children abuses children.”
A petition to Reinstate Professor was also launched online earlier this month, collecting just under 2,500 signatures to date.
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