Ten months after defending his right to due process and allowing him to continue playing for the team, Sunderland have released 28-year old forward Adam Johnson. It was previously announced Johnson, who'd suited up for the team despite charges of three counts of sexual activity with a girl under 16 and one of grooming, would not play in Saturday's match against Manchester United. Johnson pleaded guilty to two of the four counts Wednesday.
Johnson, the father of a then-two-month-old, was arrested in early March of 2015 on suspicions of having sexual relations with a 15-year-old he met online. He pleaded guilty to one count of sexual activity with a child and one charge of grooming Wednesday with court proceedings set to begin Friday.
Since-terminated manager Dick Advocaat said of Johnson last April, "The club made a statement and I stand behind it. Let’s see what the future brings. He is an important player. I have no doubt about his sharpness." Johnson was briefly suspended by the club after the initial arrest but had that suspension lifted less than three weeks later.
Johnson was regularly booed by opposing fans as he continued to play up through last week. A number of anti-rape advocacy groups called for boycotts of the club and they were widely criticized for not suspending Johnson on their own. Jill Saward, who became the first rape victim in England to waive her legal right to anonymity, told The Telegraph, "Particularly in cases where he’s exposed to children, in any other situation like that, it would be the norm to suspend him. The fact that the football club aren't doing so, I think sends a very poor message."