The Who guitarist Pete Townshend has broken his nine year silence on the child pornography scandal, which led to him being cautioned by police and put on a sex offenders’ register for five years.
In 2003, Townshend was arrested along with 3,743 other people, after he paid £7 with his credit card to access a website bearing the message ‘click here for child porn.’ At the time, the guitarist admitted his wrongdoing, but claimed that his reason for visiting the site was for the purposes of researching his forthcoming biography ‘Who I Am.’
In his first interview addressing the issue in almost a decade, Townshend told The Times that he had “white knight syndrome” and thought he could help the victims pictured on the site: “I had experienced something creepy as a child,” said Townshend. “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.”
In his book ‘Who I Am,’ which is set for release on October 11th, Townshend revealed the media and public outcry that took place after his arrest made him contemplate suicide: “If I’d had a gun, I would have shot myself, just to escape the lynching,” he wrote.
When queried by The Times if he had seriously considered ending his life, Townshend replied that he did, but added that it was, “only for a moment.”
Townshend also revealed why he decided not to fight the allegations against him in court: “I think I was exhausted,” he reflected. “The police 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 if it went to court, they would f***ing rip me apart. They’ll just rip me apart.”