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Wednesday 7 December 2016

Footballer Johnson took advantage of girl who idolised him, court told

Dean Gray in London

Published 13/02/2016 | 02:30

Former Sunderland soccer player Adam Johnson leaves with his girlfriend girlfriend Stacey Flounders from Bradford Crown Court in Bradford.
Former Sunderland soccer player Adam Johnson leaves with his girlfriend girlfriend Stacey Flounders from Bradford Crown Court in Bradford.

English soccer player Adam Johnson "abused his revered position in society" by having sexual contact with a 15-year-old girl who "idolised" him, prosecutors claimed yesterday.

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Johnson, who played 12 times for England, is on trial, accused of sexual activity with a child. He has pleaded guilty to grooming and sexual activity with a 15-year-old girl, but denies two further counts of sexual activity with a child. He was fired by his Premier League team Sunderland on Thursday.

Resuming the trial at Bradford Crown Court, prosecutor Kate Blackwell said the girl involved was a season ticket holder at Sunderland and regarded Johnson as "her absolute hero".

Ms Blackwell said Johnson made contact with the girl after receiving a Facebook friend request late in 2014, arranged to meet her, and was made aware she was aged 15.

"Knowing that she looked up to him, (Johnson) made a conscious decision to act in a way that he knew was both morally and legally wrong," Ms Blackwell said.

The prosecutor said Johnson was in contact with the girl while he lived with his partner, who was then pregnant with their daughter. Johnson was arrested after the girl told her parents about what happened and they told the police, Ms Blackwell said.

The prosecutor said that the player told arresting officers: "Is this (the girl's name)? I only gave her a couple of shirts."

She said Johnson told police the pair kissed "for a couple of minutes in quite a passionate way" while his hands stroked her body. Ms Blackwell said: "He said that when he was kissing (the girl) he knew that it was wrong and therefore went no further."

The court heard how Johnson was messaging the girl and his partner simultaneously after the sexual activity had taken place. Ms Blackwell said: "These are not the actions of someone whose moral compass, having momentarily wobbled, quickly returned to a proper course."

She said: "The Crown's case is that he is guilty of further and more serious sexual activity."

The prosecutor said: "He knew what he wanted from that second meeting. He was keen to meet for (the girl) to give him the 'thank you kiss' and more.

"He wanted the meeting in a secluded spot, in the dark and for her to give him more than a kiss, a bit of feeling, and he wouldn't have left, you may think, without getting what he wanted because he was used to getting what he wanted.

"He gave her the shirts and autographs with the knowledge that she would want to please him in return.

"He knew her age. He knew how much she idolised him. And he knew that he could take advantage of the situation.

"And that is exactly what he did."

The trial was adjourned until Monday.

Irish Independent

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