Manchester

Former Oldham footballer Jack Tuohy 'took advantage of girl's crush'

Jack Tuohy Image copyright Oldham Athletic
Image caption Former Oldham midfielder Jack Tuohy denies five sexual offences

A professional footballer took sexual advantage of a 14-year-old girl who had "a crush" on him, a court has heard.

Former Oldham Athletic midfielder Jack Tuohy, 20, first met the "football mad" girl at a schools tournament hosted by the League One club in 2015.

The prosecution told Manchester Minshull Street Crown Court he went on to groom the teenager after "bullying" her into meeting him.

Mr Tuohy denies five sexual offences against a child.

It is alleged Mr Tuohy, who was aged 19 at the time, encouraged the "starstruck" teenager to overcome her "youthful reluctance" and meet him in person after he initiated contact with her on social media following the tournament.

'Kissing and cuddling'

Benjamin Jones, prosecuting, said: "The defendant took advantage of a girl with a crush on a footballer," and "pressurised - effectively bullied - her into meeting him".

Mr Jones said Mr Tuohy initially told police no sexual activity took place and then claimed there was "kissing and cuddling, nothing more", telling detectives he "panicked" when they told him the girl's age.

He later conceded sexual activity between them happened in his car, but said he believed she was aged 16, Mr Jones said.

In her videoed police interview, played to the jury, the complainant said they had regular online conversations and that she told him she was 14 when he asked her how old she was.

She told police they were "just friends", but agreed to meet him.

Mr Tuohy denies two counts of engaging in sexual activity with a child, two counts of inciting a child to engage in sexual activity and one count of meeting a child following sexual grooming.

The trial continues.

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