England footballer Adam Johnson had a sexual encounter in his car with a 15-year-old fan who had an “enormous crush on him” and idolised him, a jury has been told.
Prosecutors said the former Sunderland winger “abused his revered position in society” when he had sexual contact with the teenager “in a way that he knew was both morally and legally wrong”.
The girl contacted the 28-year-old player via Facebook, a jury at Bradford Crown Court heard, and the two began exchanging messages before they finally met so he could sign shirts for her.
After this first meeting the two joked in their messages about whether Johnson deserved a “thank you kiss” and they met again.
Prosecutor Kate Blackwell QC described how the two engaged in sexual activity in the player’s black Range Rover at this second meeting on January 30 2015.
Miss Blackwell said: “What happened in that car on that evening is for you to decide.
“The Crown’s case is that sexual activity took place, that the defendant and (the girl) kissed, with tongues, for some time during which the defendant unbuttoned her jeans and undid the zip.”
The prosecutor described what happened next between the footballer and the teenager and said: “The defendant then stopped what he was doing.
“He did not, as he would have you believe, have a sudden pang of conscience, an epiphany, an experience of sudden and striking realisation.”
Miss Blackwell said the defendant then drove to “a more secluded place” where further sexual activity took place.
She told the jury of eight women and four men that the pair exchanged further messages after the encounter and Johnson told the girl: “It was class.”
He added: “Just wanted to get your jeans off, LOL.”
The court heard the girl replied: “Next time.”
Miss Blackwell told the jury: “It is the Crown’s case that what has brought the defendant to this courtroom is a sexual desire for (the girl), an excessive arrogance and an unwarranted level of expectation.
“He has abused his revered position in society and, having met (her), this 15-year-old girl, at Sunderland Football Club and later on social media, and knowing that she looked up to him, made a conscious decision to act in a way that he knew was both morally and legally wrong.”
Miss Blackwell told Bradford Crown Court that Johnson played for his country “wearing the England shirt with pride”.
She said: “His is the success story that many young people can only dream of.”
The prosecutor that in December 2014, when the pair first made contact with each other,Johnson lived with his partner, Stacey Flounders, who was then pregnant with their daughter, in Castle Eden, County Durham.
Miss Blackwell said the girl was a passionate Sunderland fan and Johnson was her favourite player.
“After matches, she would hang around waiting for a glimpse of him, wanting to get a photograph, often sporting a Sunderland shirt with Johnson‘s name emblazoned across the back,” she said.
The prosecutor said: “She often waited for him after home matches, hoping to catch a glimpse of him before he drove away, keen for any contact, an autograph or, even better, a photograph.
“She had one enormous crush on him. He was her absolute hero. She idolised him.”
Miss Blackwell read to the jury a series of messages exchanged between Johnson and the girl. In the messages, she said, she made it clear she was just 15.
In the messages, the girl also congratulated Johnson on the birth of his daughter.
Miss Blackwell explained how the pair first met on January 17 near a Chinese takeaway close to the girl’s home and he signed two shirts for her.
After the meeting, the prosecutor said, the pair exchanged further messages, talking about whether Johnson deserved a “thank you kiss” for the shirt-signing “or more”.
The prosecutor also told the jury that Johnson had researched “legal of age of consent” on the internet.
She said: “The Crown suggest that such a search to satisfy such an interest is unlikely to have resulted from a kiss and no more than a kiss, as the defendant contends.”
Johnson denies two counts of sexual activity with a child. He sat in the dock next to a security officer as the case opened, wearing a dark suit, white shirt and a dark red tie.
His partner, Miss Flounders, watched from the public gallery.
Miss Blackwell told the jury that Johnson has already admitted one count of sexual activity with a child and another of meeting a child following sexual grooming.
She said: “The Crown’s case is that he is guilty of further and more serious sexual activity.”
The prosecutor said: “He knew what he wanted from that second meeting.
“He was keen to meet for (the girl) to give him the ‘thank you kiss’ and more.
“He wanted the meeting in a secluded spot, in the dark and for her to give him more than a kiss, a bit of feeling, and he wouldn’t have left, you may think, without getting what he wanted because he was used to getting what he wanted.
“He gave her the shirts and autographs with the knowledge that she would want to please him in return.
“He knew her age. He knew how much she idolised him. And he knew that he could take advantage of the situation. And that is exactly what he did. ”
Johnson was arrested after the girl told her parents about what happened and they told the police, Miss Blackwell said.
The prosecutor said that the player told arresting officers: “Is this (the girl’s name)? I only gave her a couple of shirts.”
She said Johnson told police the pair kissed “for a couple of minutes in quite a passionate way” while his hands stroked her body.
Miss Blackwell said: “He said that when he was kissing (the girl) he knew that it was wrong and therefore went no further, that he knew that it was wrong because he had a girlfriend, a family, a career and that he was instantly upset with himself, telling himself that he should know better, that his behaviour was poor, that he had no sexual attraction to her, that he didn’t like her ‘in that way at all’. ”
The court heard how Johnson was messaging the girl and his partner simultaneously after the sexual activity had taken place.
Miss Blackwell said: “These are not the actions of someone whose moral compass, having momentarily wobbled, quickly returned to a proper course.”
The trial was adjourned until Monday.