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Townshend Arrested for Porn

Police search guitarist's London home for child pornography

January 13, 2003 12:00 AM ET

British police arrested Pete Townshend today at his London home on suspicion of possession of and incitement to distribute indecent images of children. The Who guitarist submitted to questioning and a search of his home after admitting that he had paid to enter a Web site selling child pornography. The Metropolitan Police had obtained a warrant to enter the premises. Townshend has not yet been charged.

If convicted, Townshend, 57, would face up to a five-year jail term for viewing child pornography on the Internet -- considered "possession" -- but the punishment can be mitigated if he offers a credible explanation.

Townshend maintains he was interested in the pornography only as research for his autobiography, claiming that he suspects that he was abused by his mentally ill maternal grandmother when he was five. "I can't remember clearly what happened," he said in a statement released Saturday, "but my creative work tends to throw up nasty shadows -- particularly in Tommy."

The statement followed reports in the British press that authorities were investigating an unnamed "legendary British rock star" for child porn connections. Townshend positioned himself as an avid opponent of child pornography and pedophilia caught in a misunderstanding, saying, "I am not a pedophile . . . I hope you will be able to see that I am sincerely disturbed by the sexual abuse of children, and I am very active trying to help individuals who have suffered, and to prevent further abuse."

Townshend is only one of the 1,300 offenders Scotland Yard has cracked down on through Operation Ore, the British branch of an FBI-led campaign that traces pedophiles through their credit card numbers. Officials from that team were among those who searched the guitarist's home.

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