Adam Johnson 'used his fame to manipulate girl'
Shamed Adam Johnson used his celebrity and power to pursue his desires, the detective who led the case against the footballer has said.
After the former England and Sunderland player was jailed, Detective Inspector Aelfwynn Sampson, of Durham Constabulary, said: "This is a carefully considered and significant sentence which sends out a clear message.
"Fame, celebrity and a position of power does not give you the right to break the law in pursuit of whatever you desire."
The case has sparked a debate, with some who support the disgraced footballer saying the victim knew what she doing when she agreed to meet him.
Ms Sampson said: "Members of the public are clearly entitled to express their opinions but the law remains clear and Adam Johnson broke it.
"He partially admitted his guilt and was found guilty of a more serious count after trial.
"The age of consent is clear. It is set at 16 to protect young people from adults and also themselves.
"Johnson, a 28-year-old man, picked out a 15-year-old girl. His sexual intentions to the girl were clear as he admitted himself while giving evidence.
"He pleaded guilty to grooming her for sexual activity fully knowing how old she was from the start. She never lied about her age to him.
"He groomed his victim and gave her his personal phone number, arranged to meet her and gave her special gifts of signed shirts.
"Over a period of time they exchanged hundreds of messages. He made her feel special and admitted flirting with her to manipulate the schoolgirl in an attempt to satisfy his sexual desires.
"This girl should have been safe but she was used by the public figure she looked up to most.
"I hope today will bring some closure for her and her family.
"This case demonstrates that victims of these crimes will be taken seriously and perpetrators will be dealt with robustly."