A US professor accused of justifying paedophilia has been hired by a John Hopkins University centre aimed at preventing child sex abuse.
Dr Allyn Walker has been slammed online after claiming sexual urges towards children aren't necessarily wrong and urged people to use the term "minor-attracted persons" or MAPS, rather than paedophiles.
After publishing a book focused on preventing child sex abuse, which featured over 40 interviews with adults who admitted to being sexually attracted to minors but never actioned it, Dr Walker gained traction online for its controversial argument.
"A lot of people when they hear the term 'pedophile' they automatically assume that it means a sex offender, and that isn’t true," Walker said in a video discussing the book on Twitter. "And it leads to a lot of misconceptions about attractions towards minors."
While Walker acknowledged the term 'minor-attracted persons' could suggest to people that it is okay to be attracted to children, but said labelling anyone by their sexual desires doesn't indicate anything about their morality because "no one can control who they're attracted to at all".
"In other words, it’s not who we’re attracted to that's either okay or not okay. It's our behaviours in responding to that attraction that are either okay or not okay."
"These are people who have an attraction they didn't ask for."
Walker continued to say that he wanted to be clear that child sex crime is an inexcusable crime.
Part of the John Hopkins Bloomberg school of public health, the Moore Center for Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse announced their excitement to have Walker join their team.
But the decision has been slammed by critiques on social media.
"To retain its ethical foundation, child sexual abuse prevention work has to be victim-centred. What is victim-centric about the claim that there is nothing wrong with being sexually attracted to children?" University of New South Wales Professor Michael Salter Tweeted.
"They r not called MAPS (Minor Attracted Persons). They are PEDOPHILES. Stop normalizing this!" another person tweeted.
The hiring of Allyn Walker, a vocal proponent for the decriminalization of People Attracted to Minors… is completely unacceptable," a third tweeted. "Policy produced by Bloomberg has guided law, and this ideology is dangerous to children. DO BETTER."
Walker was an assistant professor of sociology and criminal justice at Old Dominion University but was placed on leave in November 2021 following the controversy.
"I want to state in the strongest terms possible that child sexual abuse is morally wrong and has no place in our society," the University's president Brian Hemphill said in a statement.