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Virginia professor stepping down after controversial comments on pedophilia

Dr. Allyn Walker, an assistant professor of sociology and criminal justice, will step down at the end of their contract in May 2022. They'll remain on leave.

NORFOLK, Va. — An Old Dominion University (ODU) professor is stepping down at the end of their contract in May 2022, following their controversial comments on pedophilia.

The controversy stems from an interview where Dr. Allyn Walker, an assistant professor of sociology and criminal justice, argued for the use of the term “minor-attracted people" -- or MAPs -- to describe people attracted to children.

After the controversy erupted, earlier in November, the university announced Walker had been placed on administrative leave.

In a joint statement with Walker, ODU President Brian Hemphill said this outcome would be the best way to move forward.

"We hope today's action helps bring closure for our Monarch family," Hemphill said. "As we move forward, I encourage all members of the Monarch family to continue our efforts toward healing and civil discourse."

Walker said their work is aimed at preventing child sexual abuse, accusing some of mischaracterizing their research. Read Walker's full statement below:

"I am particularly grateful for the outpouring of support from many among the ODU community, as well as others in my research fields who have publicly affirmed the value of my work in advancing child safety. My Department Chair, Mona Danner, my colleagues, and my students all have been especially supportive. And, finally, I am thankful for the assistance of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) during this time."

Hemphill focused on the university community in his statement.

"The safety and security of individual Monarchs and our collective campus are of the utmost importance. For ODU, these will always remain top priorities as we pursue our mission in a caring, inclusive, and supportive community, one that respects academic freedom and remains willing to discuss controversial ideas in an atmosphere free of intimidation or violence."

Walker will remain on leave until their contract expires next year.