Everyday Victim Blaming

challenging institutional disbelief around domestic & sexual violence and abuse

Adam Johnson: “besotted” and the implication of contributory negligence in child sexual abuse

Adam Johnson, who was convicted for child sexual abuse, has lost his challenge to the Court of Appeals. He will continue to serve 5 years for the sexual assault of a teenage girls. At the time of his arrest, Johnson was found in possession of extreme pornography. It is very clear that Johnson used his position as a famous footballer to target a vulnerable girl for sexual exploitation. It is equally clear from the response of his "fans" (and numerous football fans in general) that they believe male footballers have the right to sexually exploit and assault teenage girls for the sole crime of being 'fans'. This is why it is irresponsible for media, in this case the Huffington Post, to use words like 'besotted' to define the victim: a term that erases the power of celebrity culture, male entitlement and perpetrator responsibility. The only relevance to the girls status as a fan is that Johnson took advantage of his position and relative power to target her for sexual exploitation. Her status as a fan of Johnson is not a form of 'contributory negligence'.

Of course, The Huffington Post, whilst using inappropriate language, didn't use images that could identify the child. David Dinsmore, former editor of the Sun, was convicted of breaching the Sexual Offences (Amendment) Act for publishing a picture of the child with only her face pixelated. The Daily Telegraph was fined £80 000 for publishing the same image.





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