The Who's Townshend Says 'I'm Not a Pedophile'
Sat Jan 11, 2:48 PM ET
By Sinead O'Hanlon
LONDON (Reuters) - British rock star Pete Townshend, guitarist with legendary band The Who, on Saturday admitted paying to view Internet child pornography but denied he was a pedophile and said it was for research purposes.
The guitarist took the unusual step of issuing a public statement after a newspaper said police were investigating an unnamed music star as part of Britain's largest-ever operation against Internet pedophilia.
In the lengthy statement, Townshend said he had paid to enter an Internet site advertising child pornography "purely to see what was there" as research to fight the crime.
"I am not a pedophile. I think pedophilia is appalling," he said in the statement which was distributed by a woman to reporters outside his home in Richmond, south London.
"On one occasion I used a credit card to enter a site advertising child porn. I did this purely to see what was there," he said.
Townshend, 57, said he felt "anger and vengeance" toward those who found child pornography attractive, and said he believed he was sexually abused as a child but could not remember clearly what happened.
"To fight against pedophilia, you have to know what's out there," he said, adding that he was involved in an anti-pedophilia campaign that had fizzled out.
Townshend, who is married with children, had earlier left the house in a Mercedes car.
A spokesman for London police refused to comment on the matter, saying it did not talk about individual cases and was not able to confirm that police were investigating a rock star.
HIGHS AND LOWS
The Who shot to fame in the late 1960s with its zeitgeist anthem "My Generation" and cemented its reputation with such albums as "Tommy," "Who's Next" and "Quadrophenia."
Townshend, who wrote most of the band's songs, was renowned for smashing his guitars during live stage performances.
Despite its many musical highs, the band has also been dogged by tragedy. Townshend and lead singer Roger Daltrey are the only two surviving original members of the band.
Bass player John Entwistle died in a Las Vegas hotel room last year from a heart attack triggered by cocaine use. Twenty-five years earlier, the band's original drummer, Keith Moon, died of an accidental pill overdose. The Daily Mail newspaper reported that an unnamed rock star was being investigated by officers on the Operation Ore inquiry.
The operation has resulted in more than 1,300 arrests nationwide, including 50 police officers and is partly based on information supplied by American law enforcement agencies.
Townshend said he could not remember the details of the sexual abuse he believed he suffered as a child, "but my creative work tends to throw up nasty shadows -- particularly in Tommy," he said, referring to the 1969 rock opera.
Townshend said he had been writing his childhood autobiography for several years and his viewing on the Internet had helped with his book. He hoped that its publication next year would make clear that his only "compulsions in this area" were to fight what was happening to children around the world.
He said he predicted many years ago the Internet would "subvert, pervert and destroy the lives of decent people."
"I have felt for a long time that it is part of my duty, knowing what I know, to act as a vigilante to help support organizations...build up a powerful and well-informed voice to speak loudly about the millions of dollars being made by American banks and credit card companies for the pornography industry."