Johnson facing jail term for child sexual abuse

LONDON • Former England winger Adam Johnson, sacked by Premier League club Sunderland last month, is facing jail after being found guilty on Wednesday of sexual activity with a 15-year-old girl.

The 28-year-old footballer, who has played 12 times for England, admitted kissing and grooming the teenager at the beginning of his trial but denied two more serious accusations of sexual activity.

A jury at Bradford Crown Court in northern England cleared him of one of these charges but found him guilty of a second charge of sexual touching by a 10-2 verdict.

He will be sentenced at a later date, and is likely to face a jail term of between four and 10 years.

"In our football-obsessed region Adam Johnson had a responsibility as a professional footballer to be a role model, a role he did not fulfil," Detective Inspector Aelfwynn Sampson said outside the court.

"He knew very early on in this case how old the victim was and continued to contact her and arrange to meet her."

In a statement issued through the police, the girl, who cannot be named for legal reasons, said she had suffered abuse and felt used.

"He was my favourite football player at Sunderland, a club I was a massive supporter of," she said. "Him being found guilty and pleading guilty shows everyone that I was telling the truth."

Sunderland sacked Johnson after he entered his guilty plea but the club has been criticised for not taking action sooner.

In a statement, the club said it had been acting on legal advice.

"Had the club known that Mr Johnson intended to plead guilty to any of these charges, then his employment would have been terminated immediately," it said.

Johnson has also played for Middlesbrough and Manchester City.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 04, 2016, with the headline 'Johnson facing jail term for child sexual abuse'. Print Edition | Subscribe