BRADFORD, England — English soccer player Adam Johnson "abused his revered position in society" by having sexual contact with a 15-year-old girl who "idolized" him, prosecutors said on Friday.
Johnson, who has played 12 times for England, is on trial, accused of sexual activity with a child. He has pleaded guilty to grooming and sexual activity with a 15-year-old girl, but denies two further counts of sexual activity with a child.
He was fired by Premier League team Sunderland on Thursday.
Resuming the trial at Bradford Crown Court, prosecutor Kate Blackwell said the girl involved was a season-ticket holder at Sunderland and regarded Johnson as "her absolute hero."
Blackwell said Johnson made contact with the girl after receiving a Facebook friend request late in 2014, arranged to meet her, and was made aware she was aged 15.
"Knowing that she looked up to him, (Johnson) made a conscious decision to act in a way that he knew was both morally and legally wrong," Blackwell said.
The prosecutor said Johnson was in contact with the girl while he lived with his partner, who was then pregnant with their daughter.