Sunderland winger Adam Johnson pleaded guilty to a charge of sexual activity with a schoolgirl. Johnson landed in trouble when he was arrested in March last year after it came to light that he had had sexual relations with a child below the age of 16.
The 28-year-old admitted one count of sexual activity and one charge of grooming (a charge where paedophiles convince children to meet) but denied two other counts he was charged with. Johnson’s case will go to trial on Friday.
Johnson had been suspended by Sunderland when he was arrested but was later allowed to play after his bail was extended.
Johnson groomed victim for two months
Evidence showed Johnson had groomed the teenage girl between 30 December 2014 and 26 February 2015. The age for consent in England is 16 and the girl was only 15 years old at the time.
When the charges were read out in a Bradford crown court, Johnson pleaded guilty to two of the charges. He was first asked about meeting the girl for sexual activities in spite of knowing she was under 16 years old and Johnson said he was guilty.
For the second charge, the one-time England international with 12 caps was charged with intentionally touching the teenager in a sexual manner in spite of knowing she was not yet 16. Johnson first discussed it with his legal team before confirming the charge was true and that he was guilty.
Jurors asked to look at evidence and not press reports
With the trial set to start on Friday, a panel of jurors were sworn in. And the judge, Jonathan Rose, was quick to point out to them that the case had made the headlines of numerous newspapers and online media since Johnson was a professional footballer.
“This is a case you may see referred to in the press,” Rose said. “Mr Johnson is a professional footballer with Sunderland AFC and you may see something about it in the newspaper.
“But let me just remind you of the oath and affirmation you have just received. You must try this defendant on the evidence heard in this courtroom, not anything else. That is very important.”
He then told the jurors that they had to come to a verdict of guilty or not guilty based on the evidence presented by prosecutor Kate Blackwell QC.
“This defendant has already pleaded guilty to two offences, you will hear more about them in detail when Miss Blackwell opens the case to you on Friday. It will be for you and only you to determine if he is guilty or not guilty.”
Johnson has played 20 games in all competitions for the Black Cats this season and scored two goals. His last goal was a free-kick at Anfield against Liverpool that helped Sunderland get a point in a 2-2 draw.