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A Virginia academic whose research into “people attracted to minors” sparked threats and a petition calling for their dismissal announced his resignation on Wednesday, university and academic officials said in a joint statement.

Allyn Walker will remain on leave until they step down as assistant professor of criminal justice and sociology at Old Dominion University in May.

“We have concluded that this outcome is the best way forward,” University president Brian Hemphill said in the statement.

He added that he hoped the move would help “shut down” as the school continued its efforts “towards healing and civil discourse.”

Walker, who said in Wednesday’s statement that their research was aimed at preventing child sexual abuse, attributed the backlash to their trans identities and the misinterpretations promoted online and by some media.

The petition, signed by nearly 15,000 people, was started after Walker gave an interview about their book, “A Long, Dark Shadow: Minor-Attracted People and Their Pursuit of Dignity,” published by University of California Press in June.

The publisher described the book, which studies people who are attracted to minors and do not act on the attraction, as “challenging the widely held assumptions that people who are preferentially attracted to minors – often referred to as “Pedophiles” – are necessarily also predators and sex offenders. “

Walker said in the interview, “I think we tend to want to classify people with these attractions as bad or morally corrupt. But when we talk about non-offensive MAPS, it’s people who have an attraction that they don’t. hadn’t asked. And that they would often do anything to change. But they find they are unable to change these attractions. And more importantly, the people in my study did not act on them. . “(MAPs is the abbreviation of” persons attracted to minors. “)

Walker added: “I want to be extremely clear that child sexual abuse is never okay.”

The petition said West’s views were “unacceptable” and “would affect the next generation in a negative way.”

In an interview with the Washington Post, the student who started the petition said Walker’s language was “essentially a slap in the face for anyone who received treatment as a child.”

Walker said in Wednesday’s statement that several threats had been made against them and thanked the school’s public safety department for monitoring the threats.

“I am especially grateful for the outpouring of support from many members of the ODU community, as well as others in my fields of research who have publicly affirmed the value of my work in advancing child safety,” Walker said. .

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