A Florida-based child abuse prevention organization is pushing the NFL not to allow Pete Townshend to perform with his band the Who at the Super Bowl halftime show because of Townshend’s 2003 arrest for accessing a child-porn website in 1999. At the time, Townshend admitted to viewing child pornography online but said he did so only as research for a book, inspired in part by his own dim memories of being sexually abused as a child. “I am angry about child porn on the Internet, and deeply wounded at the inference that I might be a pedophile,” he told UK newspaper The Sun in 2003. Police determined Townshend was not in possession of any child pornography and issued him a formal caution. His name was also listed on a sex offender registry for five years.
The NFL says it is not changing the halftime show line-up. In a written response to Child AbuseWatch, Joe Browne, executive vice president of communications and public affairs for the league, stood by the performer. “We are aware that Mr. Townshend was arrested…[but] do not believe that charges were ever filed…. Mr. Townshend has a long history of involvement with charity work as well as being a champion of children’s charities,” he wrote. Super Bowl XLIV is Feb. 7.