FREDONIA, N.Y. (WIVB) — SUNY Fredonia President Stephen Kolison posted a statement Tuesday night regarding a video that circulated on social media earlier in the evening of one of its professors discussing sex between adults and children.
“SUNY Fredonia is aware of a video posted online involving one of its professors,” the statement read. “The views expressed by the professor are reprehensible and do not represent the values of SUNY Fredonia in any way, shape or form. They are solely the professor’s views. The matter is being reviewed.”
The clips appear to show Fredonia philosophy professor Stephen Kershnar talking about sex between adults and children. The context and source of the footage is unclear.
Kershnar is also the author of “Pedophilia and Adult-Child Sex: A Philosophical Analysis,” which was published in 2015, and “The Moral Status of Harmless Adult-Child Sex,” an article published in Public Affairs Quarterly (Vol. 15, No. 2) in 2001.
His bio on Fredonia’s website includes a line stating, “Kershnar has written one hundred articles and book chapters on such diverse topics as abortion, adult-child sex, hell, most valuable player, pornography, punishment, sexual fantasies, slavery, and torture.”
News 4 has reached out to Kolison for comment with regard to Kershnar’s bio on the Fredonia website, but the college is standing by the statement that has already been released. News 4 has also called and emailed Kershnar to get his side of the story but has not heard back.
“I think the video honestly is one of the most disgusting things I’ve seen here on campus and anyone who says or does the things like that should not be in a position of power,” said Robert Kryger, a SUNY Fredonia freshman.
Kershnar can be heard on a podcast in December 2020 questioning whether pedophilia is physically or emotionally harmful. He has also questioned statutory rape laws.
In an op-ed Kershnar wrote in the Dunkirk Observer last year, he said he is a tenured faculty member at Fredonia.
“Fredonia has called him a distinguished professor, he’s gotten hundreds of awards and I just don’t understand how they let somebody rise to such a high level of respect when he’s degraded women in situations like this,” said Hayley Mercer, a SUNY Fredonia freshman.
In New York State, no one under the age of 17 can consent to sex.
“According to our penal law, a minor who is under the age of 17 is incapable of consenting to any sexual relations, especially with an adult. It does not have to be an adult, it can be someone who is also a minor but older than them,” said attorney Barry Covert. “These are some of the most punitive offenses under our penal law. They are akin to committing homicide. You could be facing many years of incarceration.”
A petition on change.org seeks to gather signatures and calls for Kershnar to be fired.
Jeff Preval is an award-winning anchor and reporter who joined the News 4 team in December 2021. See more of his work here.