Football: Sunderland's Adam Johnson admits underage sex charge

Sunderland winger Adam Johnson arrives with his girlfriend Stacey Flounders at Bradford Crown Court yesterday. He is charged with four offences concerning sex with an underaged girl.
Sunderland winger Adam Johnson arrives with his girlfriend Stacey Flounders at Bradford Crown Court yesterday. He is charged with four offences concerning sex with an underaged girl. PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON • Sunderland's England international winger Adam Johnson pleaded guilty to one count of sexual activity with a child and one count of grooming at his underage sex trial yesterday.

The 28-year-old player, capped 12 times by England, continues to deny two other charges of sexual activity with a girl aged under 16.

He had initially denied all four charges against him. But yesterday, he pleaded guilty to kissing a 15-year-old schoolgirl after grooming her over the Internet, reported the Guardian.

Johnson is accused of grooming the teenager between Dec 30, 2014 and Feb 26 last year and having met her to carry out sexual activity knowing she was under 16, the age of consent.

In a second count, he is charged with intentionally touching the complainant in a sexual way despite knowing she was under 16.

He appeared in the dock at Bradford Crown Court in northern England wearing a black suit and dark-blue tie. His partner Stacey Flounders, with whom he shares a one-year-old daughter, was present in court, and sat next to Johnson's father, reported the Daily Mail.

Flounders, 26, has stood by Johnson since the claims first emerged last March.

The sexual offences are alleged to have taken place at two locations in County Durham in the north-east of England on a night in January last year.

Johnson was initially suspended by Sunderland following his arrest but has since returned to action and scored in their 2-2 draw at Liverpool in the Premier League last Saturday.

The County Durham native began his career with Middlesbrough and returned to his native northeast in 2012 when he joined Sunderland from Manchester City in a £10 million (S$20.2 million) deal.

The trial will begin tomorrow.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, THE GUARDIAN

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 11, 2016, with the headline 'Johnson admits underage sex charge'. Print Edition | Subscribe