January 14, 2003, London, England
Pete Townshend, the rock guitarist and co-founder of the Who, was arrested today on suspicion of possessing indecent images of children.
Mr. Townshend, 57, had acknowledged this weekend that he had used an Internet site advertising child pornography, but he said he had been doing it in connection with his research for an autobiography that chronicles his suspected abuse when he was a child.
He came forward on Saturday after a weekend newspaper published a story saying a major rock star was among people being investigated by the police as part of a major international child pornography investigation. Mr. Townshend said he would welcome a police investigation of his computer to absolve him of any suspicion of being a pedophile.
From the Timesonline.com:
After sparking fury from children's charities, the 61-year-old Who guitarist removed the story, admitting "this was probably an ill-advised thing for me to do".
Townshend is still on the sex offenders register after being cautioned for child pornography three years ago.
The story, called The Comedian, which appeared on his official website, graphically describes sex between a 16-year-old boy and girl.
Townshend was arrested in 2003 as part of Operation Ore, which investigated child porn sites. He was placed on the sex offenders register for five years.
and then there's this one:
PETE TOWNSHEND will be on the Sex Offenders Register for five years after receiving a police caution for viewing a website containing child pornography.
The 57-year-old rock musician and founder member of The Who will also have a lifelong criminal record for the caution, after a four-month investigation by Scotland Yard’s Child Protection Group. Police said yesterday that Mr Townshend had viewed, but not downloaded, images of child abuse on to his computer.
Mr Townshend acknowledged in a statement that he was wrong to use his credit card to enter a website offering images of child abuse and said he accepted the police caution.
So what's a "caution". It may be closest to the notion of a stipulation of guilt or no-contest plea.
Police can only issue a simple caution if:
there's evidence an offender is guilty
the offender is 18 years of age or over
the offender admits they committed the crime
the offender agrees to be given a caution – if the offender does not agree to receive a caution then they may be charged instead
There are no rigid rules about the particular situations in which cautions should be used – this is at the discretion of senior police officers.
A simple caution is not a criminal conviction, but it will be recorded on the police database. It may be used in court as evidence of bad character, or as part of an anti-social behaviour order (ASBO) application.
The record will remain on the police database along with photographs, fingerprints and any other evidence taken. If you are cautioned for a sexual offence, you could be placed on the sex offenders register.
Looks like across the pond they have different levels of sex offenders, assuming of course that Mr. Townsend wasn't treated differently because of his celebrity.