Adam Johnson BRADFORD, ENGLAND – FEBRUARY 10: Adam Johnson leaving Crown Court after admitting two charges against him and pleading not guilty to two others on February 10, 2016 in Bradford, England. The Sunderland FC midfielder, aged 28 and from Castle Eden, County Durham, will go on trial for two counts of sexual activity having pleaded guilty to two others. He has one daughter. (Photo by Nigel Roddis/Getty Images)

Sunderland’s club chief executive has resigned over her handling of Adam Johnson’s child sex abuse scandal.

In a statement, Margaret Byrne admitted she made a “serious error of judgement,” in the case which saw Johnson plead guilty to having “sexual activity with a child” and “grooming” a child earlier last month. Byrne allowed Johnson to continue playing with the club up until February despite being arrested back in March 2015.

Byrne called allowing Johnson to play “a serious mistake” when he was facing those heinous charges, and privately admitted to the club he kissed and groomed a schoolgirl.

“I sincerely regret that this error has impacted on the victim, the club, its supporters and all those affected in such a devastating manner.”

Byrne’s salary was £663,000-a-year per The Guardian, roughly $940,000 USD. They also report she resigned after the paper approached her about the situation with new evidence that she knew about Johnson’s criminal behavior all the way back in May and didn’t do anything with it.

Johnson’s lawyer, Orlando Pownall, reportedly wrote a note shortly after Johnson’s arrest admitting Johnson kissed the 15-year-old and sent her flirtatious messages. The note was written by Pownall after meeting with Johnson and Byrne in May. The note outlines Johnson admitting to knowing the teenager was under the age of consent.

Byrne played a role in introducing Pownall and Johnson in May, and is said to have provided him with copies of Johnson’s police interview and 834 sexual WhatsApp messages. At Johnson’s trial, the court was told Sunderland had no notes of the meeting. Byrne admitted in her resignation she didn’t disclose the note to anybody.

“Mr Johnson’s victim has endured a terrible ordeal and for that I am truly sorry. At no time was the failure to suspend him again intended to cause any harm or distress to her or her family.”

Sunderland said they quickly terminated Byrne’s contract, and that the decision to keep Johnson on the roster was wrong. The club said they’ll review how their decision-making so the same mistakes aren’t made again when dealing with controversy.

“In light of what has been acknowledged by Margaret as a serious error of judgment on her part, we have undertaken a full review of the club’s decision-making processes to ensure that there can be no such mistakes in the future.

The club recognizes Byrne made an awful situation worse. Her resignation, whether self-imposed or not, is well-deserved.

[The Guardian]

About Liam McGuire

Social +Staff writer for The Comeback & Awful Announcing.