- Associated Press - Wednesday, March 2, 2016

BRADFORD, England (AP) - Former England soccer international Adam Johnson faces going to jail for up to 10 years after being found guilty on Wednesday of sexual activity with a child.

Johnson was sacked by Premier League team Sunderland as the trial started last month when he pleaded guilty to one charge of sexual activity with a 15-year-old girl and another of “grooming” - building an emotional connection with a child to gain trust for sexual motives.

Two further counts of sexual activity with a child were denied by Johnson. A jury cleared him of one count on Wednesday but convicted him of another, by a majority of 10-2.

The judge said a custodial sentence was an “almost inevitable outcome,” with a range of four to 10 years likely for the sentence.

“You can say goodbye to your daughter,” Judge Jonathan Rose said before Johnson left the dock. “A prison sentence will mean you will not see her for some time.”

Johnson, who has played 12 times for England and also for Manchester City and Middlesbrough at club level, was granted bail until the sentencing hearing in two to three weeks.

Sunderland released a statement after the guilty verdict, defending the club’s decision not to fire Johnson after the player was first arrested by police in March last year. It said the club was not advised Johnson would plead guilty to two of the charges and denied it had engaged in “tactical discussions” about the plea, saying allegations that it did so were “utterly without foundation.”

Johnson said during the trial that he had admitted in a meeting with Sunderland chief executive Margaret Byrne in May to kissing the girl and swapping messages with her.

Sunderland rejected that claim, saying: “During the time that she (Byrne) was present there was no suggestion whatsoever that Mr. Johnson would be changing his plea (to guilty).”

The trial heard that the 15-year-old girl was a season-ticket holder at Sunderland and regarded Johnson as “her absolute hero.” Johnson, who lived with his then-pregnant partner at the time, 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.

The charges against Johnson arose from a meeting between Johnson and the girl in his car on Jan. 30 last year.

In a statement read out by the police after Wednesday’s verdicts, the girl said: “What happened in his car has turned my life upside down. I have lost all my confidence and my school work has suffered.

“I now feel used and let down by him. It’s been the hardest year of my life.”

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