Pete Townshend: Super Bowl Pariah?

Pete Townshend may be one of the greatest guitar players of all time, but more than one organization wants to stop him from strumming along with The Who at the Super Bowl in Miami.

The reason? A past incident with child pornography.

The 64-year-old rocker was reprimanded by British police in 2003 and placed on country's sex offenders' register for five years after he admitted that he paid to view images on a child porn Web site in 1999.

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According to Townshend, it was all in the name of research: in a 2003 statement, he said that while it was wrong for him to visit the site, he did so because he needed information for a campaign he was launching against Internet child porn and for his autobiography. (In the past, he has said he believes he was sexually abused as a child.)

In Townshend's 1972 rock opera, "Tommy," the title character is sexually abused by his Uncle Ernie. In 2002, Townshend wrote a report about child porn and posted it on his Web site. He compared the path to free "pedophilic imagery" to a "free line of cocaine at a decadent cocktail party: only the strong willed or terminally uncurious can resist." Townshend subsequently removed the report from his site; it still lives on TheSmokingGun.com.

After a four-month-long investigation in 2003, in which police examined more than a dozen computers Townshend used, officials decided neither motive served as a defense to access the images. As part of an official cautioning procedure, Townshend's fingerprints, photograph, and a DNA sample were taken and he was placed on Britain's sex offender registry for five years.

Children's Organizations: NFL Shouldn't Have Picked Pete Townshend

His listing on that register expired in 2008. That was the same year Townshend and The Who were lauded by then-President George W. Bush at the Kennedy Center Honors. But for Kevin Gillick, president of Protect Our Children, Inc., a child protective charity in Brevard county, Fla., Townshend's penance and endorsement isn't enough.

"The NFL shouldn't have picked him in the first place," Gillick told ABCNews.com. "The damage was done when they picked him. And apparently, they didn't even consider this."

Gillick dismissed Townshend's excuse for accessing child porn and questioned his motives.

"[Research] is one of the most common excuses given by people who visit kiddie porn sites," he said. "These sites are most often visited by people who have a sexual attraction to children, just like people who go to grocery stores most often do so to get food. And of course, he paid for this, so he supported the industry when he did that. When you pay for child porn, you place an order for its next victim. I'm sure Mr. Townshend is intelligent enough to understand that."

He pointed out that even after Scotland Yard cautioned Townshend, the rocker got into further trouble. In 2006, Townshend published a story on his Web site called "The Comedian," which graphically described sex between a 16-year-old boy and girl. Townshend removed the story after children's charities in the U.K. expressed outrage, and apologized with a statement on his site: "I'm afraid I have had to end this Blog. I'm so sorry for those of you who were beginning to enjoy it, but it has upset certain people, and I sincerely do not wish to offend anyone."

Gillick's organization has distributed hundreds of flyers around Miami's Sun Life Stadium protesting Townshend's participation in the Super Bowl.

Protect Our Children joins another organization, Child AbuseWatch, in condemning the NFL for this year's choice of half-time performers. Child AbuseWatch President Evin Daly published an open letter to the NFL in early December, writing, "Inviting Townsend to play is a blatant disregard to the values of American families and a slap in the face to victims of child sexual abuse."

Protect Our Children has distributed 1,500 of these flyers throughout Miami.

Daly added, "Even someone looking for a job as a groundskeeper at Land Shark Stadium wouldn't get hired with a sex offender status in his past -- why then does Townshend?"

Super Bowl Already Stirring Controversy

But the NFL isn't budging. While representatives for Townshend declined ABCNews.com's requests for comment, the organization behind the Super Bowl voiced its support for the guitarist.

"Scotland Yard looked into it; they never charged him," NFL spokesperson Brian McCarthy told ABCNews.com. "He was put on a list as a formality. That list was from 2003 to 2008. They had investigated for four months, looked at 14 computers, and never found any porn material related to minors or children. That was the extent of it."

McCarthy noted that Child AbuseWatch's Daly is the only person who has written the NFL in protest, and that Townshend has performed in the US since the child porn controversy with little to no public outcry. Indeed, Child AbuseWatch appears to be the only American organization that has repeatedly voiced concern about Townshend -- Daly and Co. also spoke out against the rocker's participation in 2008's Kennedy Center Honors.

"We know the facts of the case," McCarthy added. "We have always looked to make sure that any part of the Super Bowl, including the half time show, is suitable for a mass audience."

That half time show has come under increased scrutiny following the 2004 scandal in which Justin Timberlake inadvertently revealed Janet Jackson's nipple on national television, resulting in the FCC levying a $550,000 fine against CBS.

This year's Super Bowl has stirred up another controversy in addition to the Townshend affair: during Feb. 7's game, CBS plans to air an anti-abortion ad starring Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow and his mother, Pam.

Paid for by the conservative Christian group Focus on the Family, the ad tells the story of Bob and Pam Tebow, who was pregnant with their fifth child when the couple travelled to the Philippines on a missionary trip, where she suffered complications. While doctors advised her to abort the fetus, Pam Tebow refused, and on Aug. 14, 1987, gave birth to the future college football legend.