Adam Johnson is guilty but Stacey Johnson is the one on trial
“PERVERT England Star: I groomed Girl, 15,” runs the Daily Star’s front-page headline. The England star is Adam Johnson, who plays for Sunderland in the Premier League.
The facts come thick and fast. He “groomed and groped” a 15-year-old girl. He earns “50,000-a-week”. His girlfriend, Stacey Flounders, 26, “the mother of this young daughter”, was at Bradford Crown Court to hear her boyfriend admit “indulging in sexual activity with a schoolgirl on January 30 last year”.
Johnson has played 12 times for England “and scored twice”. He denies two further claims of sexual activity with the same girl, both involving penetration. All papers bar the Express (10 years) say the maximum sentence if found guilty of all charges is 14 years prison.
Judge Jonathan Rose said the jury must “consider only the evidence” and not be distracted by Johnson’s job. He told the jurors, “You are not allowed to speak to anyone but your number about the case.” Not at home. Not while you read the papers. You must remain as if in a bubble.
The Star adds, “his team are tipped for relegation”. Johnson lives in a “£1.85m home”.
The Mail says Johnson will not play for Sunderland while his trial is underway. The Times gores further, leading its sports section with question: “Will Adam Johnson ever play football again?”
Do we believe in rehabilitation? Does the Times need to show a picture of Johnson cradling his baby daughter? Do all sex criminals get pictured with their kids? Do we need to know that Flounders wore “a black military blazer, skin-tight black leggings, a pale orange blouse an high heels, and sporting a black Chanel handbag, she chewed discretely on gum”?
You’d have to be wearing nose plugs not to smell the stench of money and spite. Why is Flounders’ expensive handbag featured on the sports pages? Is the inference that she’s there for the money and not love or family duty? She’s not on trial. Her pathetic boyfriend is.
The Mail’s pictures shows more of Stacey than it does of Johnson.
Johnson’s job is why he’s news. The story of a 28-year-old man who “kissed” and “touched” a 15-year-old is not a big national news story.
If he is a “pervert”, what of the Star’s readers, who on Page 43 of today’s newspaper are invited to call a sex line to listen to “girls” and “mother and daughter” action? When did incest go mainstream?
PS: Adam Johnson is not a role model. The Australian reports on someone keen to tar all men:
Yvonne Traynor, head of Rape Crisis South London, a charity, said: “Adam Johnson premeditatedly groomed a child and admitted sexual activity with her, a young girl whose life has been devastated. Surely Sunderland have a moral obligation to say they do not condone his actions and instead recognise the seriousness of his crime rather than allowing him the opportunity to represent the club and act as a role model for many young men.”
No sane young man sees Johnson’s crimes and thinks him a role model, an inspirational figure to follow and emulate. To suggest men are sex criminals-in-waiting is a weak and ugly argument.