An assistant professor of sociology and criminology at Old Dominion University, who has been accused of being an advocate of child sexual abuse after a recent interview about their research, has agreed to drop out.
The professor, Allen Walker, who was placed on leave earlier this month due to the controversy and reported threats to their safety and the safety of the campus, did not respond to a request for comment. Previously, Walker said their comments defending “people who are slightly attracted” have been taken out of context or intentionally misunderstood by critics.
In a joint statement announcing the resignation, Old Dominion University Walker said Walker would remain on leave until the end of their contracts in May and would formally resign from the university after that.
“We’ve determined that this outcome is the best way forward,” President Brian Hemphill said in that statement. “We hope today’s work will help end the Monarch family. As we move forward, I encourage all Monarch family members to continue our efforts toward recovery and civic discourse.”
Walker said their scholarship aims to prevent child sexual abuse, but that the work “was mischaracterized by some in the media and online, in part on the basis of my transgender identity. As a result, multiple threats were directed against me and the campus community in general.”
Walker thanked Old Dominion “for giving me the opportunity to teach and conduct my research, and the ODU Public Safety Department to monitor threats to me and the community. I am especially grateful for the outpouring of support from many of the ODU community, as well as others in my areas of research who have publicly affirmed the value of my work in promoting child safety.” .
In a separate statement, Hemphill said “our decisions were made to protect the lives and safety of faculty and others on and off campus.”
Regarding academic freedom and freedom of expression, Walker said, “Controversy and disagreement are at the heart of research and learning. ODU faculty in many disciplines engage in cutting edge research that, by its nature, tests limits and challenges accepted wisdom. Some of it may be controversial, and often What controversial research is misunderstood and mischaracterized.”
“We have more work to do.”
Hemphill also said, “The great majority of monarchs have engaged in civil discourse, even those whose personal experience has made the subject of pedophilia particularly distressing.” However, “we clearly have more work to do in order to generate a greater understanding of research without intimidation or the threat of violence.”
Walker’s research attracted attention, mostly negative, after they interviewed an advocacy group called the Prostacia Foundation. The foundation describes itself as “a child protection organization that combines an evidence-based approach to preventing child sexual abuse with a commitment to human rights and sexual positivity.”
During the interview, Walker said, “A lot of people, when they hear the term ‘pedophile’, automatically assume it means a sex offender, which isn’t true, and that can lead to a lot of misconceptions about the attraction to minors.” Walker recommended that she become Affirmation therapies – as opposed to “conversion” therapies – are more widely available to help non-abusive “little freaks” navigate their attractions in ethical and legal ways.
“Being attracted to minors, as long as it is not acted upon, does not mean that a person with these attractive things is doing something wrong,” Walker told Prostacia. “In my view, there is no morality or immorality associated with someone’s attraction, because no one can control who they are attracted to at all. In other words, it is not who we are attracted to is good or not good, our behaviors in response to this attraction are either good or not good.
While fellow academics said Walker’s statements are in line with current research and best practice, some students and parents, along with others outside the Old Dominion campus community, have accused Walker of taking a weak stance against or even endorsing child sexual abuse. The campus has reportedly been exposed to safety threats, as has Walker.
The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, which has supported Walker throughout her brief suspension from campus and education, said in its own statement about Walker’s resignation that “threats of violence (or violence itself) should not dictate what can be said or looked for in higher education. By removing Walker of the classroom, Old Dominion succumbed to louder, more angry voices and gave reviewers a veto over what faculty could research, publish, or say.The First Amendment rights to free speech and academic freedom protect the ability of public college faculty to explore ideas, regardless of How controversial they are or how many people agree or disagree with them.”
Richards, associate professor of English at Old Dominion University and president of the American Association of University Professors’ campus chapter, said he and his colleagues “are — first and foremost — pleased that Dr. Walker and our faculty, staff and students are safe, and no acts of violence have been committed.”
However, we “strongly condemn transgender hate speech and physical threats against Dr. Walker,” Richards continued. Referring to Walker’s book, Long dark shadow: people who are attracted to slightness and their pursuit of dignityAnd On which Walker’s comments to Prostacia were based, Richards said it was “obvious” that those who criticized him had not read him.
“We understand the resistance of the subject, particularly from those affected by previous traumas,” Richards said. These concerns are valid and legitimate, and we should continue to discuss them. However, we are disappointed by the public’s reaction to Dr. Walker’s research, continuing misunderstandings of academic freedom and misrepresentation of rigorous, peer-reviewed research.”
Noting that Walker’s research was well-known and even funded by the university before the controversy, Richards said Old Dominion “could have done much in their letters to draw a useful distinction between the value of Dr. Walker’s work and the right they ought to do. His follow-up, annoyance, and controversy over the same subject matter.” “.
Richards said the AAUP chapter is working on an official statement on the Walker case and is “committed to creating better conditions for faculty to move forward in the areas of shared governance, academic freedom, and coalition building so that we never lose a dear colleague like Dr. Walker again.”