The professor was put on leave after saying the stigma of pedophiles should be removed

A university professor who called for the stigmatization of pedophiles as “people attracted to minors” has been given leave after the controversy “causes disruption on campus”.

Dr. Allen Walker, assistant professor of sociology and criminal justice at Old Virginia University, sparked intense online criticism and protests on campus after suggesting that sexual attraction to minors is not immoral.

Comments made during an interview with the child protection organization Protasia Foundation went viral after being shared by “Lips from TikTokTwitter account.

Dr. Walker said that the phrase “a person who is attracted to a minor” – or MAP – carries less stigma than the term pedophilia, adding that being attracted to a minor does not mean a person is doing something wrong “as long as they are not acted upon”.

“From my point of view, there is no moral or immorality associated with someone’s attraction because no one can control who they are attracted to at all,” Dr. Walker said.

“In other words, it is not what we are attracted to that is good or unacceptable. Our behaviors in response to this attraction are either good or unacceptable.”

Dr. Walker was discussing the book Long dark shadow: people who are attracted to slightness and their pursuit of dignityOne of the best sellers on

University President Brian O. Hemphill said in a statement that reactions to Walker’s research and book led to concerns about the safety of the professor and the campus.

“Moreover, the controversy over Dr. Walker’s research has disrupted the campus and community environment and is interfering with the institution’s mission of teaching and learning,” the statement said.

“The actions we are taking today are driven by our commitment to maintaining a safe and enabling learning environment for our students, faculty, and staff.”

Before Dr. Walker’s leave of absence, protesters marched to the university with sighs saying “pedophilia is not a sexual activity” and chants of “protect our youth”. They called for an end to the sexualization of children and demanded, in chalk graffiti, that the university #FIREALLYN.

The comment came after the university initially defended Dr. Walker’s comments as part of a “quest for knowledge” that may include controversial issues and viewpoints.

“I embarked on this research in the hope of gaining an understanding of a previously unstudied group in order to identify ways to protect children,” Dr. Walker said in a statement.

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