LONDON - England international Adam Johnson has been sacked by Premier League Sunderland after he pleaded guilty to sexual activity with a child, the club said on Thursday.
“In light of Adam Johnson’s guilty pleas, the club has today terminated his contract with immediate effect,” Sunderland said in a statement. “The club will make no further comment.”
Johnson pleaded guilty to one count of sexual activity with a child, but denied two other charges, when he appeared at Bradford Crown Court on Wednesday.
The 28-year-old winger, who has played 12 times for England, also admitted one count of grooming a girl under the age of 16, a court official said.
Sportswear firm Adidas said in a statement on Thursday that it had cancelled its boot contract with the midfielder.
Johnson, who began his career at Middlesbrough and also played for Manchester City, joined Sunderland for 10 million pounds ($14.46 million) in 2012 on a four-year contract.
He has been a regular for the north-east side this season and scored in the 2-2 draw with Liverpool last week.
When asked about the winger’s future at a news conference earlier on Thursday, manager Sam Allardyce said: “He’ll not be available for this weekend. We will see how it goes after that.”
Johnson’s case is expected to last two weeks.
|Children pose for photographs at a Phnom Penh orphanage in Decermber. Photo: Lindsay Murdoch|
The conviction of 46 year-old Hang Vibol, the director of Our Home Orphanage in Phnom Penh, follows a warning by Tara Winkler, a former NSW Young Australian of the Year, that children are vulnerable to sex predators in Cambodia's 600 orphanages and residential care institutions.
United Nations agencies and a consortium of 50 non-government-organisations have urged Australians to stop supporting Cambodia's orphanages, many of which are not registered and are operated as for-profit businesses.
Australians are believed to be the biggest donors of the institutions despite studies showing that most of the 47,900 children living in them have at least one parent and all would be better off living in the communities from which they come.
A Phnom Penh court's sentencing of Vibol to three years for abusing 11 children under 15 years old has been criticised as too lenient by the organisation where he worked investigating foreign and Cambodian paedophiles.
Seila Samleang, the director of Action Pour Les Enfants, said the organisation was happy with the conviction but dismayed at the "lenient" sentence.
"It is shocking that such a case happened…because he worked actively to protect children's rights for many years," he said.
For years Vibol urged courts to impose long jail sentences on convicted child sex abusers in Cambodia, a country where sex tourism is rife.
|Hang Vibol, former director of Our Home |
Orphanage in Phnom Penh. Photo: Facebook
But the same year he said many paedophiles escape conviction.
"In Cambodia, the situation is that if people give money to police or the courts, they get off," he said. "In Cambodia if you have money you can do anything."
A three-year sentence appears lenient compared with other recent cases and given Vibol was in a position of authority to care for children.
Last year an Australian travel agent Trevor Lake was sentenced to eight years in jail for having sex with underage prostitutes and producing child pornography.
Sydney teacher George Moussallie was sentenced to five years in jail for the sexual abuse of six boys.
Vibol left APLE in 2004 to run Our Home Orphanage where the abuses took place.
The orphanage was closed following his arrest last year and 60 children moved to other care centres.
APLE investigators helped police probe the activities of Vibol who denied the allegations and claimed they were made against him maliciously.
Ms Winkler, who established the Cambodian Children's Trust in 2007 after rescuing 14 children from abuse at a corrupt Cambodian orphanage, told Fairfax Media that it was "highly unethical to expose vulnerable children to serious risks in order to engage donors and raise funds".
Many orphanages and residential care centres in Cambodia allow visitors to physically interact with children in intimate ways, such as playing and hugging.
"Even though the majority of people who want to visit centres are good people who only want to help, if they are allowed in to provide love and affection, then the same access is provided to potential predators and sex tourists," she said.
International research shows orphanages and residential care institutions take a toll on children's emotional and personal development because they are separated from their families.
This leaves them vulnerable to exploitation and abuse and seemingly endless broken relationships.
The former head of the Catholic Church's defence force diocese has denied he inappropriately touched boys and has blamed another priest and a brother for assaults at a college more than 40 years ago.
Bishop Max Leroy Davis is charged with six counts of being grossly indecent with five boys under the age of 15 between 1969 and 1972 at St Benedict's College in New Norcia, northeast of Perth.
|Bishop Max Leroy Davis has denied the child sex abuse claims dating back to the 1970s. Photo: ABC News|
Defence counsel Seamus Rafferty has previously suggested two alternative suspects, who are now dead, including a Father Justin, who Davis had a role in removing as rector.
Davis said some senior students complained Father Justin had behaved inappropriately, so he took the matter to the abbot at the nearby monastery and Father Justin was removed that day.
"My recollection is that the boys told me that Father Justin had been fooling around with the boys," Davis told the court.
"My reaction at the time was certainly 'this is appalling'."
Asked why he went to the abbot, Davis replied: "There was nothing else I could do."
The other alternative suspect was Brother Benedict, who was in charge of discipline before Davis took over amid his concerns about the way discipline, which included corporal punishment, was administered.
"Brother Benedict was a very imposing figure and in addition to using the cane or strap would also use his hands to strike the boys," Davis said.
Brother Benedict also smacked boys on the head and pushed them against brick walls, Davis added.
Davis did not remember the complainants at the school and denied ever wearing a habit because he was not a member of the Benedictine order, nor was he ever referred to as "Brother", as alleged.
Davis, a Member of the Order of Australia, also rejected claims he gave sex advice, saying he always directed students to their parents.
He admitted giving upset or homesick boys a "brotherly hug" but said it was never sexual.
The trial continues.
ACT - Australian Capital Territory
Christopher Knaus, Reporter for The Canberra Times.
|Peter Cuzner (middle) leaves the ACT Magistrates Court. Photo: Graham Tidy|
Peter Cuzner, 60 of Kaleen, pleaded not guilty on Thursday to three acts of indecency against the boy in 1986.
Cuzner was a teacher at a number of schools in the ACT, including Daramalan College, although it is not yet clear where the alleged abuse occurred.
He is currently listed as the ASIC regional commissioner for the ACT, a senior executive position, but was suspended once the organisation learned of the allegations.
Cuzner was charged after a lengthy police operation prompted by the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.
ACT Policing set up Operation Attest, a team of highly experienced child abuse investigators, last year, and revealed on Monday they were bringing four people to court this week.
Three of those cases appeared in the ACT Magistrates Court on Tuesday, including two against Marist brothers, Brother John William Chute, also known as Brother Kostka, and former Brother Gregory Sutton.
Those two Marist brothers were the focus of Canberra hearings of the child sexual abuse Royal Commission.
Cuzner attended court on Thursday, but said nothing as he left the courtroom.
His case has been adjourned for 10 weeks, and will come back before the ACT Magistrates Court in late April.
"This is a police matter and we're unable to comment at this stage," Mr Abbott said.
"Peter was stood down as of the 28th of January."
"We're reviewing who will become the next ACT regional commissioner."
On Tuesday, the ACT Magistrates Court heard that Marist Brother Kostka was suffering dementia, and was currently seeking a ruling in separate NSW proceedings that he was not fit to stand trial.
Brother Kostka's lawyer indicated a similar approach would be taken in the ACT.
Brother Sutton may try to have proceedings against him permanently stayed. He is in Australia only due to an extradition that occurred in a past case, and there may be an argument that he cannot be charged with new offences while in the country on a separate extradition.
The third man who was due to appear on Tuesday did not attend court. There is no formal proof that he was served with a summons.
An earlier version of this story suggested Peter Cuzner worked at Marist College Canberra. This was incorrect. A reporter made the error.
|Clarence Edward "Bud" Evers, Jr.|
At a press conference this afternoon alongside representatives of ICE, the Conecuh County Sheriff's Office and the Child Advocacy Center, U.S. Attorney Kenyen Brown praised the international investigation, but pleaded to anyone with more information about Evers' local activities to report them locally.
"At this time we have no direct evidence there were local victims of Mr. Evers however, given the long period the criminal activity that is alleged ... there may be people out there in the public with information about Mr. Evers activities. There may also be local victims who have not come forward to report his criminal activity against them."
A search warrant issued at Evers’ home at 301 Perryman St. in Evergreen last April uncovered a “significant number of computer systems, hard drives, and loose digital media storage devices, along with travel records, passports, financial records, and photographs of young Thai males.” The complaint continues to explain that “Evers accessed and downloaded images of child pornography and images of child erotica with young male victims, and a substantial amount of digital photographs of young Thai boys in various states of undress.”
Among the other evidence seized from Evers were emails to individuals identified only as “B.D.” and “D.L.,” — some delivered from an IP address registered to the Alabama K-12 school system — in which the writers apparently exchanged child pornography over the Internet and casually discussed their escapades abroad, sometimes using coded language.
The messages became increasingly graphic over the next four years, as Evers discussed targeting boys younger than 13 and sexually abusing more than one boy at a time. Perhaps more disturbingly, Evers indicated he was becoming sexually attracted to two of his own students and said he wanted to photograph them:
“As for me, for all the years I’ve been teaching, I’ve never had anything even remotely ‘tempting.’ Until this year. This year has brought a couple of 9th graders that are very intriguing. One is very much a puppy — comes tumbling in at break every day to give me an update on his life and pester me with bizarre questions. Just turned 15, but looks all of 12 …” Evers wrote on Dec. 12, 2011. “The other is a tall, very darkskinned (but Caucasian) broody thing whom I have yet to chat with, but is *very* easy on the eyes. Discretion is, of course, the word of the day, but it’s always nice to have something brighten one’s day. I’m awaiting the right time to grab a couple of pix (big surprise, huh?). In the meantime, I'm enjoying the wind-down to Xmas break ....”
Superintendent Zickeyous Byrd of the Conecuh County Board of Education called after this story was initially published to confirm that Evers was arrested this morning and had been placed on administrative leave pending further investigations, but a personnel report from a meeting last August indicates he was temporarily assigned to the Board's central office effective Aug. 6.
Byrd couldn't offer many details, but said, "we are cooperating fully with law enforcement officers in whatever way we can and as soon as we learn more we will keep everyone informed."
Byrd said Evers' computer class was offered to juniors and seniors at Hillcrest High School, and said he was not aware of any allegations of abuse between Evers and his students.
Conecuh County Sheriff Randy Brock urged anyone who feels they have had inappropriate contact with Mr. Evers to call an investigator at 251-578-1260.
|Conecuh Co, Alabama|