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The Who's Pete Townshend says his 2003 child-pornography arrest may have saved his life

Written by on October 28, 2019

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ABC AudioIn 2003, The Who‘s Pete Townshend was arrested on child-pornography charges after he paid to access a website that featured illicit images, and although he was cleared of any major crimes after it was determined that he didn’t download photos from the site, the incident seriously damaged the rock legend’s reputation. Now, in a new interview with U.K. newspaper The Mail on Sunday‘s Event magazine, Townshend says his arrest actually may have saved his life, because it indirectly led to him discovering he had colon cancer.

“While I was waiting for the police to go through my computers, I decided to have [a] long-postponed colonoscopy,” he explains to Event. The exam revealed that he had a cancerous polyp, which his doctor told him “‘would have killed you in six months’…So it sort of saved my life.”

Townshend claimed that he’d accessed the website because he was doing research about child abuse, and was interested in proving that big banks were involved in the child-pornography industry.

Pete wound up receiving a police caution, and was placed on the U.K.’s Sex Offenders Register for five years.

The 74-year-old Rock & Roll Hall of Famer adds, “The arrest saved my life in other ways too because it freed me from this notion that I could fix everything. The arrogance of the charity work, the arrogance of the mentor, my white knight syndrome.”

Meanwhile, Townshend is preparing to release his first novel, The Age of Anxiety, on November 5. Pete says he’s planning to eventually create an art installation and extravagant stage performance based on the book, while revealing that he’s already sold the movie rights.

“It’s such an ambitious project, it’s so expensive, I’ve been paying for it by going on tour with The Who,” Townshend maintains.

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