SUNDERLAND and England star Adam Johnson has indicated he will plead not guilty to the sex offence charges he faces.
The 27-year-old was arrested on March 2 at his Castle Eden home as part of an investigation launched by Durham Constabulary.
Today at Peterlee Magistrates’ Court, the winger faced three charges of sexual activity with a child under 16-years-old and an offence of grooming after he was charged last month.
Johnson arrived at court in a Land Rover in the company of two men and entered the court holding hands with his girlfriend Stacy Founders.
His solicitor, Paul Morris, told the court Johnson would be pleading not guilty to all charges.
Johnson, of Stockton Road, Castle Eden, who wore a dark suit and white shirt, spoke only to confirm his age, address and that he understood the charges.
Prosecuter Jim Hope applied to the court for reporting restrictions to prevent any identification of young witnesses in the case.
The alleged victim is already protected by the law and can not be identified.
Marion Holloway, chairman of the bench, highlighted that this also applies to members of the piublic.
Mr Hope “The offences are all linked and all need to be tied up at a crown court”.
Johnson was given conditional bail and will appear at Durham Crown Court on Wednesday, June 3.
The dad, who has played for England a dozen times, was initially suspended when he was arrested and then 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.
Johnson had been due to appear before JPs on Wednesday, but the hearing was moved forward to today.
The Black Cats are due to play against Arsenal on Wednesday night at the Emirates Stadium, with the final match of the season on Sunday afternoon, which is also an away fixture.
Gerry Wareham, the Crown Prosecution Service’s chief crown prosecutor for the North East, has previously issued a reminder highlighting Johnson has the right to a fair trial.
He has warned there should be no reporting, commentary or sharing of information online which could in any way prejudice these proceedings.