An Old Dominion University professor has been placed on leave following comments he made about sexual attraction to children.

Allyn Walker, a professor of Criminal Justice and Sociology, commented that sexual attraction to minors “isn’t always immoral.” Walker made the comment during an interview with the Prostasia Foundation, a San Francisco-based organization that specializes in child protection.

In the interview, Walker discussed discussed their book, “A Long Dark Shadow: Minor-Attracted People and Their Pursuit of Dignity.” Walker has been accused of trying to normalize the term Minor-Attracted Person or MAP because it’s “less stigmatizing” than “pedophile.”

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“From my perspective, there is no morality or immorality attached to attraction to anyone because no one can control who they’re attracted to at all,” Walker said. “In other words, it’s not who we’re attracted to that’s either OK or not OK. It’s our behaviors in responding to that attraction that are either OK or not OK.”

“We have a tendency to want to categorize people with these attractions as evil or morally corrupt,” Walker continued. “But when we’re talking about non-offending MAPs, these are people who have an attraction they didn’t ask for.”

Walker went on to explain that “MAPS” are different than “offending” pedophiles.

“So, their behaviors are moral,” Walker said. “But they’re still being subjected to this same idea that they’re bad people and they’ve often internalized that for themselves.”

On Tuesday, Old Dominion University placed Walker on administrative leave.

“Reactions to Dr. Walker’s research and book have led to concerns for their safety and that of the campus. Furthermore, 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 university said.

In an accompanying statement, ODU President Brian Hemphill clarified that child sexual abuse is “morally wrong” and has no place in our society.”

Walker has released his own statement, saying that “child sexual abuse is morally wrong and inexcusable crime” and that the goal of his research is to “prevent crime.”

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