Over the weekend, he revealed his name had come up in a massive British investigation into Internet pedophilia, reports CBS News Correspondent Steve Holt. Townshend insists he had only checked some Internet sites as research for a book he is writing, and invited the police to examine his computer, so he could prove his innocence.
Townshend, 57, denied being a pedophile after the Daily Mail newspaper reported detectives were investigating an unidentified British rock star for downloading child pornography.
Townshend said in a statement that he informed police of his activities.
"I have been writing my childhood autobiography for the past seven years," Townshend said. "I believe I was sexually abused between the age of five and six-and-a-half when in the care of my maternal grandmother who was mentally ill at the time.
"I cannot remember clearly what happened, but my creative work tends to throw up nasty shadows — particularly in 'Tommy.'
"Some of the things I have seen on the Internet have informed my book which I hope will be published later this year."
Townshend helped form The Who in London in the early 1960s and wrote most of the band's hits. The title character in Townshend's 1969 rock opera "Tommy" — a deaf, dumb and blind pinball wizard — is sexually abused by an uncle.
Townshend said he was appalled by the growth of pornographic images of children on the Internet and "the millions of dollars being made by American banks and credit card companies for the pornography industry."
He said he used a credit card on one occasion to download pornographic images as part of his research and then reported what he saw to police.
"I am not a pedophile. I have never entered chat rooms on the Internet to converse with children. I have, to the contrary, been shocked, angry and vocal (especially on my Web site) about the explosion of advertised pedophiliac images on the Internet," he said.
Police in London said they could not comment on individual cases.
Child welfare experts have criticized his judgment. His friends also insist Townshend is not a pedophile.
British police have arrested 1,300 suspects as part of Operation Ore, a crackdown on people who view child pornography on the Internet.
Operation Ore is the British arm of an FBI-led operation that traced 250,000 suspected pedophiles around the world through credit cards used to pay for downloading child pornography. The names of British suspects were given to police here by U.S. investigators.