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Pete Townshend Arrested in Child Porn Investigation

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May 08, 2003 | 9:23am EDT

British rock guitarist Pete Townshend of The Who was arrested Monday on suspicion of possessing indecent images of children, The Associated Press reports.

After news leaked that Scotland Yard was investigating an unidentified rock star in connection with child pornography, Townshend admitted Saturday to London's Sun-Herald he had gone online to purported child pornography sites. He claims, however, he was conducting research for an autobiography dealing with his own suspected childhood sexual abuse, AP reports.

The police gained access to Townshend's home Monday and confirmed that Townshend was the suspect they were tracking. The police removed several items from the house in Richmond, Surrey, including the rock star's computer. Along with his lawyer, Townshend was fully cooperating with the authorities.

"I would be prepared to have the hard drive of my computer analyzed by the police," Reuters reports Townshend told The Sun. "It is important they are able to convince themselves that, if I did anything illegal, I did it purely for research. I am not a pedophile."

He added, "I have looked at child porn sites maybe three or four times in all, the front pages and previews. But I have only entered once using a credit card and I have never downloaded...With hindsight, it was very foolish but I felt so angered about what was going on, it blurred my judgment."

The Who's lead singer Roger Daltry backed Townshend under the Protection of Children Act, with the arrest being part of a massive crackdown on people who view child pornography on the Internet. Called Operation Ore, the FBI-led operation traces more than 250,000 pedophiles around the world who use their credit cards to pay for downloading child pornography.

Roughly 1,300 British suspects, including judge magistrates, dentists and police officers, have been arrested in connection with the operation.

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