DOCUMENT: Crime

Pete Townshend's Child Porn Treatise

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Pete Townshend's Child Porn Treatise

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MAY 7--After a four-month investigation, London police today cleared Pete Townshend of kiddie porn charges. But the rock star will still spend five years on a U.K. register of sex offenders because the co-founder of The Who visited a web site containing child porn images. Townshend was nabbed in January on suspicion of possessing indecent images of children, though no such photos were found following a search of his home and computer. At the time of his arrest, Townshend admitted using his credit card to visit a web site offering child porn, but told cops he was just conducting research. Along with being placed on the sex offender registry, the performer had to submit a DNA sample to police and have his fingerprints and mug shot taken. As part of his "research project," Townshend drafted the below six-page treatise on the easy availability of child pornography on the Internet. So easy, in fact, that Townshend, 57, wrote that he accidentally discovered a photo of a two-year-old boy being raped when he typed the words "Russia," "orphanages," and "boys" into a search engine. Townshend claimed that he reached for his telephone and "intended to call the police and take them through the process I had stumbled upon--and bring the pornographers involved to [jail]," but that he decided not to contact authorities after discussing the issue with an attorney. Townshend's paper, which he once posted on his official web site, also notes that the "pathway to 'free' paedophilic imagery is--as it were--laid out like a free line of cocaine at a decadent cocktail party: only the strong willed or terminally uncurious can resist." In the January 2002 porn treatise, Townshend notes that since 1997 he has been working on "some kind of document" relating to Internet porn, but that he feared being arrested by police who were on a "witch hunt" to catch anyone who visited illicit web pages: "Those vigilantes who research these pathways open themselves up to internet 'snoops.'" (6 pages)