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CNN SUNDAY

Townsend Denies Being Pedophile

Aired January 12, 2003 - 15:28   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: A rock star's denial. British guitarist Pete Townsend of the band The Who admits to paying for children porn on the Web, but, he says, he is not a pedophile. CNN's Ida Ponce (ph) reports on his stated reason for his Web visits.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

IDA PONCE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): No sign of musician Pete Townsend at his Richmond, England, home Sunday. Britain's "Daily Mail" newspaper reported Saturday police were investigating an unnamed British rock star for downloading child pornography as part of a high profile crackdown on a U.S. Internet child porn ring. Following the article, the 57-year-old guitarist of the "Who" gave a written statement denying he's a pedophile. Townsend did admit to entering a child porn site, saying he was doing research for his autobiography. And he said that he informed police of his activities but they didn't respond. Townsend, who admitted he likes pornography involving consenting adults, also claimed he had been quote, "shocked, angry and vocal", unquote, on his web site about the explosion of pedophiliac images on the Internet.

Some child protection activists say good intentions aside...

JOHN CARR, NON ACTION FOR CHILDREN: It's not a defense for illegal possession of child pornography, and however well intentioned Mr. Townsend may have been, he was very foolish for getting mixed up in this way.

PONCE: Townsend said he's been writing his childhood autobiography for the past seven years, and he believed he was sexually abused as a young child. Which, he says, made its way into his creative work, particularly the rock opera "Tommy", about a deaf, dumb and blind pinball wizard who is sexually abused by an uncle.

CARR: He's trying to work all the anger out by doing this kind of work. But it still doesn't excuse going on to an Internet Web site and buying child pornography. What about the rights of the children in the images that he will have been looking at?

PONCE: Scotland Yard has not charged Townsend with any offense. And Townsend has vowed to continue fighting against online child pornography.

Ida Ponce (ph), CNN, London.

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