An English court just handed down sentencing for 28-year-old footballer, Adam Johnson, for sexual activity with a 15-year-old girl. Johnson played winger for Sutherland. He was under a £10 million contract, which was terminated when he pleaded guilty to the sex charges.
Johnson received six years, according to Newsweek, with a minimum incarceration of three years. The prosecutor, Kate Blackwell, had asked for ten years, saying Johnson committed a “calculated, considered, and carefully-orchestrated crime.”
Adam Johnson had started talking with the girl over social media in December, 2014, while his girlfriend was pregnant. He agreed to sign t-shirts for her. When he was arrested in March, 2015, he was suspended from football but allowed to continue his career during the investigation.
Part of the investigation discovered 834 WhatsApp messages exchanged between Adam Johnson and the 15-year-old victim over a few weeks. Also during the investigation, extreme pornography with animals was found on Johnson’s laptop computer, according to BBC News.
During the three week trial, Adam Johnson admitted to kissing the 15-year-old in his Range Rover in January, 2015, but claimed that it “went no further.” He said he knew she was under 16 years of age. The jury also heard testimony from Johnson’s sister and girlfriend, Stacey Flounders, that Adam Johnson thought he had a “right to have sex.”
A psychiatrist for the defense, Dr. Philip Hopley, said to the jury that “This is a man, who at the age of 28, is socially and psychologically immature.” Dr. Hopley went on to say he found no evidence of “sexual perversion.”
The victim claims he “put his hands down her pants” and she performed a sex act on him. She says she now has night terrors and is in therapy. The 15-year-old girl said her schoolwork has suffered and she felt like she was at risk in public.
“I have entered many dark places over this 12 month period. Ultimately it was like I was being taunted as if to say he could do what he wants and get away with it.”
Defense barrister, Orlando Pownall, QC, asked the judge to show mercy on his client as he had already suffered for “losing a career he will never be able to retrieve.”
Judge Jonathan Rose told the ex-football player that there was “an abuse of trust, you are trusted by young fans to behave properly.” Judge Rose also said that the young victim had “suffered threats and thousands of abusive remarks” on social media.
The jury found Johnson not guilty of the sex act but guilty of sexually touching a minor. He will appeal the conviction.
“She had only just turned 15 when you began grooming her, because, as you were to admit, you found her sexually attractive,” Judge Rose told Johnson. Judge Rose also criticized Adam Johnson for engaging in sex with multiple partners during the same period.
After the sentencing, Gerry Wareham, Crown Prosecution Service, said, “Adam Johnson exploited a young star-struck fan, actively grooming her over a number of months in single-minded pursuit of his own sexual gratification.”
The victim’s mother said there are “no winners.” She said they pursued the charges to protect the public, not for any financial benefit.
Detective Inspector Aelfwynn Sampson of the Durham Police made a statement after Adam Johnson was sentenced.
“Fame, celebrity and a position of power does not give you the right to break the law in pursuit of whatever you desire. This girl should have been safe but she was used by the public figure she looked up the most.”
Adam Johnson also must pay £50,000 of the £67,132 spent on prosecuting him. Johnson’s sister, Faye, has started a Facebook page, “Adam Johnson’s Appeal Fight.”
[Photo by Scott Heppell/AP]