A footballer has been cleared of raping and sexually assaulting a woman he had met on a dating app. Sunderland winger Jack Diamond, 23, said all activity with the woman at his home in Fatfield, Washington, on 7 May 2022, had been consensual. Newcastle Crown Court heard the pair had a casual sexual relationship after meeting in 2019.
Mr Diamond said he was looking forward to resuming his career. Sunderland confirmed he would return to the club. The winger, who had been suspended by the Black Cats since being charged in March 2023, said the verdict marked his “total exoneration”.
Speaking outside court, the 23-year-old said it had been a “hugely challenging” 18 months but thanked his legal team, family and friends for their efforts and support. The court had heard Mr Diamond and the woman, who cannot be identified, had an on-off relationship which was “95%” s.e.x.
On 7 May she went to his home for a “cuddle” but claimed the footballer “tried to force himself” upon her. Mr Diamond said the encounter was entirely consensual and he stopped touching her when she asked him to. His legal team argued the woman developed feelings for him and was upset when he did not want to make their relationship more serious.
Mr Diamond’s lawyer Eleanor Laws KC said the winger, who was suspended by Sunderland and had a loan spell at Lincoln City cancelled after he was charged in March 2023, had endured a “nightmare”.
The jury of nine women and three men took less than an hour to deliver not guilty verdicts on both counts.
There were cheers from the public gallery and Mr Diamond looked visibly relieved when the verdict was announced. A spokesman for Sunderland said Mr Diamond, who also previously had loan spells at Harrogate Town, would “now return” to the Black Cats’ Academy of Light training centre and “resume footballing activity”.
Mr Diamond grew up in Washington and signed his first professional contract with Sunderland at the age of 16.
His trial heard from several coaches, including former Sunderland players Michael Proctor and Paul Thirlwell, who said he was a talented footballer and well-liked by his fellow players and staff.
They said he was “humble” and “honest” and treated everyone with respect, with Mr Proctor saying he was “incredibly shocked” by the rape accusation.
Mr Diamond said he met his accuser on Tinder when he was 19 and both agreed to have a casual relationship based on sex.
He told jurors on reflection he was “maybe naïve” to think that would work and he rejected the woman’s requests to do more boyfriend-type things, such as going for walks.
They would meet up in their cars until Mr Diamond moved out from his parents and into his own home in November 2021.
He said he was “regretful” about his “whole attitude and immaturity towards the relationship” and the “blindness towards how she actually felt