Footballer Adam Johnson has made his first appearance before a judge at Durham Crown Court today.
The Sunderland and England star faces three counts of sexual activity with a child under 16, and an offence of grooming.
He pleaded not guilty to all of the charges and the winger will now go on trial on August 24. The trial had originally been set for September 21 but was brought forward by Judge Christopher Prince.
Johnson left the court, having been granted conditional bail, and was bundled into a blacked-out Range Rover and driven away.
He will be back in court on August 3 for a plea and case managerment hearing.
The 27-year-old winger last appeared at Peterlee Magistrates’ Court on May 18, where he had indicated he would deny the charges.
The offences are all linked and all need to be tied up at a crown courtProsecutor Jim Hope
Prosecutor Jim Hope said at the time: “The offences are all linked and all need to be tied up at a crown court.”
He was arrested on March 2 at his home in Stockton Road, Castle Eden, after an investigation was launched by Durham Constabulary.
Johnson has previously been supported in public by long-term girlfriend Stacy Founders, 25, who gave birth to their baby daughter just seven weeks before his arrest.
The dad, who has played for England a dozen times, was initially suspended by the Black Cats, but was later reinstated by his club.
After his bail was extended by police, the decision was taken to allow the Sunderland-born player to return to play for the squad, while the investigation continued.
Gerry Wareham, chief crown prosecutor for the North East, has previously warned there should be no reporting, commentary or sharing of information which could prejudice proceedings.