The Who’s Pete Townshend Recalls Struggling For Vindication After Avoiding Court

Recently speaking to The Independent, The Who’s Pete Townshend discussed the painful effort to restore his reputation after publishing the essay ‘A Different Bomb‘ on his website.

In the essay, he talked about finding disturbing child abuse images online and trying to report it. Then, the rocker got arrested in 2003 and was on a sex offenders’ list for five years because he admitted to using his credit card on a site that had child abuse images. Referring to the incident, he said:

“You know, I made a mistake, but I think I did the right thing. I was challenged by Keir Starmer, who was then in charge of public prosecutions, to either go to court to make my case clear or to accept a caution. I was terrified of going to court. I thought I would be used as a poster boy, so I refused.”

Townshend further explained, detailing his intention:

“I took the caution. So legally, there’s an argument that I was guilty of what I was accused of, which was downloading child pornography, which I never did. In fact, I was campaigning and researching and trying to get to a place where I could be useful to point the finger at where it was coming from.”

The guitarist understands that the incident still haunts his public reputation, as he noted:

“When I do an interview, often the comments refer to it: ‘This guy should be in prison.’ It comes up a lot. It’s part of my daily life, and it’s painful, but I know the truth; my wife knows the truth. She watched what I was doing. My essay ‘A Different Bomb’ is out there on the internet, so if people want to read where I was before my arrest, they’re welcome to do so.”

In 2012, The Who member joined an interview with the Times to clarify his intention to investigate child pornography and his reaction to the comments, saying:

“I had experienced something creepy as a child, so you imagine: what if I was a girl of nine or ten and my uncle had raped me every week? I felt I had an understanding and I could help. What I did was insane. [I never spoke out] because there was no sense of ‘the truth will be out.’ I’ve had the misfortune to read online comments where I’ve been judged as a pedophile because I’ve got a big nose.”

Townshend addressed his arrest and the resulting media frenzy in his autobiography, ‘Who I Am,’ set to be released in October 2012. He encouraged people to read his book for a more detailed account of the incident and his perspective in a 2012 chat with Radio 4’s John Wilson.