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The Who's Pete Townshend says child porn foray was 'research,' and 'insane'

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The Who guitarist Pete Townshend (r., with bandmate Roger Daltrey) says he downloaded child porn in a bid to follow the money trail. (AP) (Reuters)

Legendary Who guitarist Pete Townshend, who was forced to register as a sex offender in 2003 after authorities determined he downloaded child porn, broke his longstanding silence on the incident with a claim that he was trying to prove banks profit from pedophile rings.

Townshend says in his memoir, "Who Am I," which is being serialized in The Times of London, that he paid $14 to download images of abused youngsters in an admittedly "insane" bid to prove British banks helped channel profits from pedophiles to illegal child pornography rings. It marked the first time the 67-year-old has discussed the matter publicly since he was warned by police and put on a British registry of sex offenders.

"It's White Knight Syndrome," Townshend said. "You want to be the one that's seen to be helping.

"I had experienced something creepy as a child, so you imagine, what if I was a girl of nine or 10 and my uncle had raped me every week? I felt I had an understanding, and I could help,'' he added.

Townshend said he planned to show that the sick industry of child sex spans from Russian orphanages to British banks. But when word of his illicit web work got out, he says in his memoir, he was ashamed and distraught.

"If I had a gun I would have shot myself."

- Pete Townshend

"If I had a gun I would have shot myself," Townshend wrote of the experience in his memoir. "It really did feel like a lynching."

Police confiscated Townshend's computers and files, and found nothing incriminating. But his reputation was in tatters.

''What I did was insane,'' said Townshend, who also talked to the paper.
He said he didn't fight to clear his name in court because, "I think I was exhausted. The police at Kingston station gave me half an hour to make a decision about whether to go to court or not.

"My lawyers were as surprised as I was because everyone thought I would be let off. And I thought that if I went to court they would f***ing rip me apart." 
 

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