LONDON — Pete Townshend of The Who spoke out on Friday about his 2003 arrest on suspicion of using child pornography, saying he made an "insane" decision to "research" child abuse in an attempt to help victims.
Townshend, a founder of the sexual and domestic abuse charity Double O, was cautioned after paying a charge for a child pornography website and was put on the sex offenders' register for five years.
He told the Times newspaper on Friday he had entered the site as a result of "white knight syndrome, an attempt to be seen to be the one that's helping".
"I had experienced something creepy as a child, so you imagine: what if I was a girl of 9 or 10 and my uncle had raped me every week? I felt I had an understanding, and I could help," he said.
Townshend said he cancelled the payment to the child porn site immediately.
He said he was investigating in order to show that child abuse has a financial chain that runs from Russian orphanages to British banks, the Times reported.
Police examined Townshend's computers and files under the Operation Ore investigation, but they found nothing incriminating, it said.
He has always denied an interest in the pornography for its own sake, insisting in 2003 that "I am not a paedophile", and told the Times he had felt suicidal when the story became public.
Townshend, 67, spoke to the newspaper at his Richmond home about his memoir, Who I Am, which details a rock career of more than four decades in the band behind My Generation, Tommy and Quadrophenia.
Asked why he had not spoken out sooner about the arrest, Townshend said: "Because there was no sense of 'the truth will out'.
"I've had the misfortune to read online comments where I'm judged as a paedophile because I've got a big nose."
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