Townshend Arrested On Suspicion Of Porn Possession

The Who guitarist Pete Townshend was arrested today (Jan. 13) in London on suspicion of possessing indecent images of children, police said. Scotland Yard police headquarters announced that a 57-year-

The Who guitarist Pete Townshend was arrested today (Jan. 13) in London on suspicion of possessing indecent images of children, police said. Scotland Yard police headquarters announced that a 57-year-old man had been arrested on suspicion of making and possessing indecent images of children and of incitement to distribute them. A police spokesperson confirmed privately that the suspect was Townshend.

Townshend has not been charged with a crime. Under British law, suspects are not charged immediately upon arrest, and some people who are arrested are eventually released without charge.

Police said they had arrested Townshend under the Protection of Children Act after executing two searches at a business and a home in Richmond, Surrey, the town outside London where he lives. They said they had taken computers from the home and were examining them.

Townshend was being held at a southwest London police station, and could be released later today, Scotland Yard said.

The legendary guitarist said Saturday he had used an Internet web site advertising child pornography. He made the admission after a newspaper reported detectives were investigating an unidentified British rock star for downloading child pornography. He said in his statement that he was not a pedophile and had only used the porn site once while doing research for an autobiography dealing with his own suspected childhood sexual abuse.

He said that on one occasion he had used a credit card to download pornographic images as part of his research, and that he had reported what he had seen to police. Townshend said in his statement Saturday he believed he was "sexually abused between the age of five and six and a half."

"I cannot remember clearly what happened, but my creative work tends to throw up nasty shadows -- particularly in [the Who's] 'Tommy.' Some of the things I have seen on the Internet have informed my book which I hope will be published later this year," he added. The title character in "Tommy" -- a deaf, dumb, and blind pinball wizard -- is sexually abused by an uncle.

Townshend is well-known for his support of children's charities, including Chicago's Maryville Academy and the U.K.'s Teenage Cancer Trust. In recent years, he and the Who have played benefit concerts supporting both organizations.

Today, a group of police officers arrived at Townshend's London home, one carrying a plastic crate containing packaging to store potential evidence. The artist was at home, and his attorney, John Cohen, told reporters they were meeting with police. "It's by mutual agreement. We approached the police this morning and said that we should meet," he said.

A Metropolitan Police spokeswoman at the scene said: "There will be a thorough and detailed search of the premises. It will take as long as necessary." She said the police, including forensic officers, had obtained a search warrant.

British police have arrested 1,300 suspects, including a judge, magistrates, dentists, hospital consultants, and a deputy school headmaster, as part of Operation Ore, a crackdown on people who view child pornography on the Internet. Fifty police officers also have been arrested, and eight of them have been charged with offenses.

Operation Ore is the British arm of an FBI-led operation which traced 250,000 suspected pedophiles around the world through credit card details used to pay for downloading child pornography. The names of British suspects were passed on to police here by U.S. investigators.


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