Footballer Adam Johnson's victim suffered 'severe psychological harm'

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The victim of former England footballer Adam Johnson suffered "severe psychological harm" because of his actions, a court has heard.

Johnson is facing a "substantial prison sentence" after he was found guilty of one offence of sexual activity with a besotted 15-year-old fan by a jury earlier this month.

The winger had already admitted another count of the same offence and also grooming the girl, who idolised the former Sunderland and Manchester City player.

Prosecutor Kate Blackwell QC told Bradford Crown Court that there was a "significant disparity" in age between the defendant, who was of previous good character, and the victim. 

She said: "At the time of the commission of these offences, (the victim) was one month after her 15th birthday and the defendant was 27. He was all but twice her age, 13 years older."

She added: "The most apparent feature in the view of the Crown is the severe psychological harm that the defendant has caused to the victim."

Johnson, 28, who entered the court chewing gum, was without the support of former partner Stacey Flounders, the mother of his one-year-old daughter, and his sister, Faye Johnson, who used a Facebook post to say she would not attend the hearing because she did not want her brother "to see the pain in my eyes".

After Johnson's conviction Judge Jonathan Rose told the player: "You can say goodbye to your daughter. A prison sentence will mean you will not see her for some time."

All the charges relate to an incident in Johnson's Range Rover when he met up with the girl in County Durham on January 30 last year.

Miss Blackwell said the victim had suffered at school, both in her work and from bullying because of Johnson's actions.

Miss Blackwell read part of the girl's victim impact statement to the court, which said: "This whole experience has been overwhelming. Through the process I have had many hard times."

The statement said that because Johnson had protested his innocence, she "felt very intimidated by it all and felt very lonely. I have entered many dark places over this 12-month period and at times wanted to just shut the whole world out".

It continued: "Even after Adam pleaded guilty to the two charges, I have still been the subject of bullying." 

The teenager's mother said in a statement read to the court that her family had "taken no satisfaction" in the impact the case had on Johnson's family and stressed that at no time had they tried to seek any financial gain. 

She added that her daughter had been the victim of thousands of "slanderous" and "malicious" remarks and threats of violence on social media.

Miss Blackwell said Sunderland must have known by May last year what their player had done.

She said Johnson continued to play, "earning his wages" and enjoying the "adoration of fans".

She said: "Why was this the fault of anyone except himself?"

The prosecutor also pointed to the harassment of the victim on social media, saying those close to him "encouraged and promoted" the abuse by providing a social media platform.

Miss Blackwell told the court: "He must have been aware of conduct carried out in his name."

Miss Blackwell said the defendant took advantage of the girl's "adulation".

She added: "This is not a fleeting contact or a fleeting offence, an isolated episode of messages with (victim). These offences were calculated, considered and carefully orchestrated.

"The Crown says he continues to present a risk to those in the victim's position."

The prosecutor also told the court that Johnson had a history of meeting girls for sex, describing it as a "clandestine habit".

Miss Blackwell said a medical report concluded Johnson "believes he has a right to sex".

She said the same report writer said the footballer believed his actions did not constitute an offence as he thought of the victim as a young woman not a child.

The prosecutor said he told one medic: "I treated her like any other girl I meet."

She said he added: "I put her age out of my mind ... Her age never came into my mind."

Miss Blackwell said one report concluded that Johnson has "a compulsive drive to have new sexual experiences".