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Dr. Allyn Walker is a postdoctoral fellow for Johns Hopkins University, who was the subject of widespread controversy in early to mid November, 2021, while Assistant Professor of Sociology and Criminal Justice at Old Dominion University.
An American criminal justice researcher and author, Walker is known for their research relating to child sexual abuse, their advocacy for mental health treatment for people who are attracted to minors and for their use of the term Minor Attracted Person.
Walker has worked as a counselor for victims of sexual assault, as an assistant professor of sociology and criminal justice at Old Dominion University from 2019 to 2021, as well as a postdoctoral fellow at Johns Hopkins University. Walker identifies as transgender and uses "they/them" pronouns.
In 2021, Walker's use of the term minor-attracted people in a public interview spawned a controversy that culminated in them being put on administrative leave from the Old Dominion University due to safety concerns. In response to the negative news coverage of the controversy, a letter containing the signatures of 63 experts of the fields of mental health and child sexual abuse was issued in support of Walker's academic work, referring to it as important and ground-breaking.
Walker is also known for their academic book A Long, Dark Shadow, which defends the idea that not all people who are sexually attracted to minors are sex offenders and advocates for the facilitation of mental health treatment for these groups. Amid public controversy, the book became a best-seller on Amazon.
Controversy in brief, and subsequent events
Walker received widespread coverage after partaking in an interview with Prostasia Foundation, advocating the destigmatization of pedophilia. At that point, Walker had written a book, published in June 2021. Twitter coverage from trans exclusionary radical feminists at 4W and the alt-right channel Libs Of TikTok soon spread to online media including the New York Post, Washington Post, Breitbart and various small conservative outlets. Walker's use of MAP was mocked by Tucker Carlson and Geraldo Rivera on FOX News as the next woke frontier. Old Dominion's As(t*)erisk Trans Student Body released a scathing and somewhat confusing denunciation of the professor riddled with accusations of "misappropriation". Walker was supported by many in the scientific field, including Dr. Michael Seto, Dr. Craig Harper, Dr. Gilian Tenbergen and Professor Michael Bailey after subsequently being put on leave by their employer. Old Dominion University subsequently confirmed they would not be renewing Walker's contract. Our press-release of 18 Nov, 2021 provides further perspective.
Subsequent "assassination meme"
Since the controversy, a meme that seemingly encourages civilians to assassinate Dr. Walker has begun to circulate on Twitter.com, earning thousands of shares. Twitter have confirmed in their correspondence with an activist, that this meme does not break its terms and conditions.
Hiring at Johns Hopkins University
On May 25, 2022, days after their contract with the Old Dominion University expired, Walker was hired as a postdoctoral fellow at Johns Hopkins' Moore Center for Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse. The organization, which describes itself as a center for changing the way that society views child sexual abuse "from inevitable to preventable" made several tweets welcoming Walker as a new member.
2023 Wikipedia Article
In 2023, an article that had existed for over a month was deleted from English Wikipedia. While this article contained plenty of information about Walker's academic background and scholarship (now integrated here), a new article was created for their book, A Long, Dark Shadow.
Walker's first job was as a social worker, where they acted as a counsellor for victims of sexual assault and child sexual abuse.
In 2017, Walker earned their Ph.D. in criminal justice at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, and the City University of New York. Their thesis was titled Understanding Resilience Strategies Among Minor-Attracted Individuals. In 2019, they were hired at the Old Dominion University, where they worked as an assistant professor of sociology and criminal justice.
In June 2021, Walker published an academic book titled A Long, Dark Shadow: Minor-Attracted People and Their Pursuit of Dignity. The book was built on the research that they had done during their dissertation.
In November 2021, Walker agreed to an administrative leave from Old Dominion due to violent threats that they had received because of their use of the term minor-attracted people.
In May 2022, they were hired as a postdoctoral fellow at the Johns Hopkins University's Moore Center for the Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse.
Positions and findings
On CSA, its outcomes and prevention
Walker is opposed to sexual activities between adults and children and claims that their beliefs about the topic were mischaracterized by a coordinated media attack against LGBT people. Walker believes that it is "never OK" for someone to "abuse" a child, but also that there is no morality attached to the sexual attraction toward children for as long as it is not acted upon.
Walker advocates for the prevention of child sexual abuse through the preemptive clinical treatment of people who are sexually attracted to minors. They also see the stigma of this group of people as a deterrent factor that obstructs them from seeking psychological counsel.
A 2022 study lead by Walker reported that 54% of social service students surveyed, agreed they would report "a pedophile" to the police when no sexual offense was mentioned. This rate would, however, drop to 7% when the person in question was labeled as a person with a sexual interest in children but had not committed any child sexual crime.
Walker believes that pedophilia is a hardwired and unchosen sexual attraction. In their book, A Long, Dark Shadow, they encouraged people who are attracted to minors to never act upon their sexual desires and to seek psychological counsel if they felt at risk of offending.
Walker has argued that the construction of pedophilia as a criminal issue has caused a neglect to the mental health of minor-attracted people. They believe that a more humanistic approach to counseling this group of people is beneficial to the prevention of child sexual abuse.
They believe that the notion that all pedophiles are sex offenders is "not true" and leads to many misconceptions about attractions toward minors. Walker's view that minor-attracted people were simply people who had committed a crime changed after they started researching the topic.
On the use of the term "Minor-Attracted Person"
Walker advocates for the use of the term minor-attracted person due to the fact that it carries less stigma than the word pedophile. They believe that there is a moral difference between people who have an unchosen attraction to children but have not acted upon such feelings and those who have this same attraction and have done so.
They believe that there is no morality or immorality attached to a sexual attraction, as it is beyond human control. Walker does believe, however, that actions can carry moral connotation.
A Long, Dark Shadow, and extended background to controversy
In June 2021, Walker released a book titled A Long, Dark Shadow: Minor-Attracted People and Their Pursuit of Dignity. The book was built on the research they had done during their Ph.D. thesis in 2017. It was published by the University of California Press. The book documented the lives of people sexually attracted to minors, arguing that those people are not necessarily predators. In it, Walker stated that they worked as a counselor for victims of sexual abuse, and that they would feel "enraged" by what they heard from their clients, wishing they could have done something to prevent their victimization. Furthermore, the book describes how Walker's views on people who are attracted to children changed during their research.
The book became a best-seller on Amazon.
It was also criticized for its usage of the term minor-attracted person. In an interview with The Washington Post, a student who started a Change.org petition against Walker said that their language was a "slap in the face" of child sexual abuse victims. The same student also said that the book gave a "pat on the back" of pedophiles for not acting upon their sexual desires.
Controversy relating to their "Minor-Attracted People" interview
On November 8, 2021, Walker had an online interview with child protection organization Prostasia Foundation about the topic of sexual attractions to minors and child sexual abuse prevention. Two days later, a trans-exclusionary radical feminist blog published an article titled "Non-Binary” University Instructor Calls To ‘Destigmatize’ Pedophilia. The article covered Walker's interview with Prostasia, where they advocated for the use of the term minor-attracted person instead of the word "pedophile". The article also misgendered Walker multiple times.
On November 12, a clip of Walker's interview with Prostasia was shared by Libs of TikTok with the title "they are coming for your kids". Ten days further, amid the public controversy, an open letter signed by 63 experts of the field of psychology, mental health and criminology was issued to the president and other high-ranking members of the Old Dominion University in defense of Walker. On November 16, Walker agreed to an administrative leave from the Old Dominion University.
On December 10, Old Dominion’s American Society of University Professors published an open letter in support of Walker.
Response from the university
On November 24, 2021, the president of the university, Brian Hemphill, published a letter condemning the attempts of intimidation and threats against Walker and defending that controversial ideas should be debated and not silenced.
The Libs of TikTok clip of Walker's interview with Prostasia was retweeted by American senator Ted Cruz and James Lindsay. The New York Post, the Daily Mail and Fox News also shared the clip, accusing the professor of trying to normalize the sexual grooming of children. The incident was also discussed in the Tucker Carlson Show.
Response from Walker
Walker told The Washington Post that the idea that they were defending child sexual abuse was "absolutely outrageous" and that they, as well as the LGBT community, were a victim of a coordinated media attack.
Walker also stated that they, as well as the university campus, had received violent threats during the controversy, and that their positions were mischaracterized, partly due to their trans identity. In a public statement, Walker stated that their research into this controversial topic had been done in order to identify ways of protecting children.
Walker's research was criticized by the president of the International Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation, Michael Salter, for not being victim-centered enough. He said, in 2022, that too much prevention work was being done by researchers who have solely worked with offenders or people sexually attracted to minors.
In 2023, radical feminist Julie Bindel accused Walker's academic research of suggesting that the answer to people's attractions to minors was to "feed the beast".
Walker has also been criticized by Bill Donohue, the president of the Catholic League in a 2022 essay, who called Walker "a biological woman who thinks she is a man" and tied the normalization of pedophilia to homosexual activism.
- Walker, A., Butters, R.P. and Nichols, E., 2022. “I would report it even if they have not committed anything”: Social service students’ attitudes toward minor-attracted people. Sexual Abuse, 34(1), pp. 52–77.
- Walker, A., 2021. A Long, Dark Shadow: Minor-attracted people and their pursuit of dignity. Univ of California Press.
- Walker, A. (2017). Understanding resilience strategies among minor-attracted individuals (Doctoral dissertation). CUNY Academic Works.
- Letter of Support for Walker from Researchers and Clinicians
- Personal Website and social
- How Pedophilia Research Led a University to Part Ways With a Scholar - Summary of how the 2021 events unfolded, originally from the CHE.
- Jezebel Interview
- When not directly retrievable from our list, you may be able to find full books on Libgen, and papers on SciHub for example. See Help:Research Resources.
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 1.2 Professor whose 'minor-attracted person' research on pedophilia created stir lands new job. The Washington Times
- ↑ 2.00 2.01 2.02 2.03 2.04 2.05 2.06 2.07 2.08 2.09 2.10 2.11 2.12 2.13 2.14 2.15 2.16 2.17 2.18 2.19 Who is Allyn Walker? ODU Professor Quits After Pedophilia Remarks Spark Backlash. Newsweek
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 Schwerha, Alexa (2022). Johns Hopkins hires professor known for defending attraction to minors. Campus Reform
- ↑ 4.0 4.1 4.2 Professor who wrote about adults attracted to minors resigns. Associated Press, 2021
- ↑ 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 ODU chapter of national organization publishes letter sharing concern of professor stepping down over controversial interview. WTKR
- ↑ 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 6.5 6.6 6.7 6.8 6.9 Haulenbeek, Sydney. ODU's Struggle with Academic Freedom Casts a Long, Dark Shadow. [Archived https://archive.is/IGw5Y].
- ↑ 7.0 7.1 7.2 Letourneau, Elizabeth (2021). A Virginia college professor set off a firestorm about pedophilia. The Washington Post
- ↑ 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 8.4 8.5 ODU professor steps down after firestorm over research into 'minor-attracted people'. The Washington Post
- ↑ 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 9.4 9.5 Doherty, Erin (Nov, 2021). Old Dominion University professor on leave amid protests over research on pedophilia. Axios
- ↑ 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 10.4 10.5 10.6 Professor placed on leave after saying paedophiles should be destigmatised. The Independent, 2021
- ↑ Allyn Walker - A Long, Dark Shadow
- ↑ 12.0 12.1 Walker, Allyn (2021). A Long, Dark Shadow: Minor-Attracted People and Their Pursuit of Dignity isbn 978-0-520-30636-3
- ↑ Early news coverage concerning Allyn Walker - WAPo
- ↑ Early news coverage concerning Allyn Walker - NYPo
- ↑ Early news coverage concerning Allyn Walker - Jezebel
- ↑ Early news coverage concerning Allyn Walker - Indy
- ↑ Early news coverage concerning Allyn Walker - UK Mail
- ↑ Early news coverage concerning Allyn Walker - Reason
- ↑ Early news coverage concerning Allyn Walker - Breitbart: Suspension
- ↑ Early news coverage concerning Allyn Walker - Breitbart: Academic response
- ↑ BC - Link to news story inside
- ↑ Allyn Walker - Letter of support
- ↑ ODU - statement re. contract
- ↑ Professor gets new job after pedophilia research caused stir. AP NEWS
- ↑ Johns Hopkins child sex abuse center hires trans professor, 34, who was forced to resign from Virginia school for DEFENDING pedophiles as 'minor attracted persons' (Daily Mail)
- ↑ 26.0 26.1 Walker, Allyson (2017). Understanding Resilience Strategies Among Minor-Attracted Individuals
- ↑ Schmidt, Alexander F., Niehaus, Susanna (Nov, 2022). Outpatient Therapists’ Perspectives on Working With Persons Who Are Sexually Interested in Minors. Archives of Sexual Behavior, vol 51, issue 8, pages 4157–4178, doi 10.1007/s10508-022-02377-6, issn 0004-0002, pmc 9663344, pmid 35939157
- ↑ 28.0 28.1 Bindel, Julie (2023). Keep child abusers off the rainbow flag. UnHerd
- ↑ 29.0 29.1 Logue, Derek W. (2022). How ‘Cancel Culture’ Stifles Efforts to Combat Child Sexual Abuse. The Crime Report
- ↑ Levenson, Jill S., et al (2020). Beyond the “Ick Factor”: Counseling Non-offending Persons with Pedophilia. Clinical Social Work Journal, volume 48, issue 4, pages 380–388, doi 10.1007/s10615-019-00712-4, issn 0091-1674
- ↑ 31.0 31.1 Virginia professor to step down after backlash to research on 'minor-attracted' people. NBC News
- ↑ Kwong, Jessica (2021). Professor on leave for saying attraction to minors isn't immoral. Metro
- ↑ "Non-Binary" University Instructor Calls To 'Destigmatize' Pedophilia. 4W – Feminist News
- ↑ LibsofTikTok's Interviews Prove She's Not Unbiased. She's Generating Hate. Newsweek
- ↑ A Joint Statement from Old Dominion University and Dr. Allyn Walker. Old Dominion University
- ↑ O'Neil, Tyler (2022). Johns Hopkins center against child sexual abuse hires professor who defended 'minor-attracted persons'. Fox News
- ↑ Note: Allyn Walker has claimed that they have worked as a counselor for sexual assault victims when they were a social worker.
- ↑ Bindel, Julie (2023) Keep child abusers off the rainbow flag. UnHerd
- ↑ Walker, Allyn (2022). ""I Would Report It Even If They Have Not Committed Anything": Social Service Students' Attitudes Toward Minor-Attracted People," Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment, 34, 52–77.