Adrian Peterson of the Minnesota Vikings was recently accused of child abuse after he left marks on his young son after allegedly disciplining him with a switch.
Peterson’s attorney, Rusty Hardin, issued a statement last Friday saying his client’s conduct “involves using a switch to spank his son,” and according to online reports, Peterson removed the leaves of a tree branch, which he referred to in a police report as “a switch,” to strike his 4-year-old son.
The Vikings originally deactivated Peterson from playing after he was indicted by a grand jury on charges of reckless or negligent injury to a child, but after reconsideration, the team announced Monday that the running back will return to practices and meetings this week and is expected to play Sunday against the New Orleans Saints.
Today’s decision was made after significant thought, discussion and consideration. As evidenced by our decision to deactivate Adrian from yesterday’s game, this is clearly a very important issue.
On Friday, we felt it was in the best interests of the organization to step back, evaluate the situation, and not rush to judgment given the seriousness of this matter. At that time, we made the decision that we felt was best for the Vikings and all parties involved. To be clear, we take very seriously any matter that involves the welfare of a child.
“At this time, however, we believe this is a matter of due process and we should allow the legal system to proceed so we can come to the most effective conclusions and then determine the appropriate course of action. This is a difficult path to navigate, and our focus is on doing the right thing. Currently we believe we are at a juncture where the most appropriate next step is to allow the judicial process to move forward. We will continue to monitor the situation closely and support Adrian’s fulfillment of his legal responsibilities throughout this process.”
Meanwhile, Peterson will make his first court appearance Wednesday at a hearing in Conroe, Texas, where he is expected to enter a plea. He faces up to two years in prison and a $10,000 fine if found guilty.
At a news conference Saturday afternoon, Montgomery County, Texas, first assistant district attorney Phil Grant said Peterson was charged with one count of injury to a child and could be sentenced to as many as two years in state jail as well as a $10,000 fine. Probation is an option, Grant said, for defendants with no prior criminal record.
The punishment happened after Peterson’s son pushed another of Peterson’s children off of a motorbike video game, the report says.
During a Skype session with his mom back in Minnesota, the 4-year-old boy asked if he could tell her something. According to the report, Peterson said, “Go ahead and tell her and show her what happened.”
When the boy returned to his mother in Eden Prairie, Minn., she took him to a doctor.
The doctor told investigators that the boy had a number of lacerations on his thighs, along with bruise-like marks on his lower back and buttocks and cuts on his hand.
The police report says the doctor described some of the marks as open wounds and termed it “child abuse.” Another examiner agreed, calling the cuts “extensive.”
The report also states the four year-old had been hit with a belt, and that Peterson put leaves in the boy’s mouth while he was being hit with the switch with his pants down. The child told his mother Peterson likes belts and switches and has a whooping room, according to the report.
In Texas, Grant said, “parents are entitled to discipline their children as they see fit, except when that discipline exceeds what the community would say is reasonable.” In Peterson’s case, Grant said, the grand jury found that Peterson’s discipline exceeded a reasonable standard.
Peterson likely will appear in court in the next several weeks, Grant said, but it could be several months before the case would go to trial.
On Saturday, the NFL told ESPN.com it would review Peterson’s case under the league’s personal conduct policy.
Peterson didn’t pay in the Vikings to Sunday’s game. He did, however, tweet a copy of religious text on the topic of judging others and pressed send right around kick off time…
UPDATE 9/15/14 – 3:10pm: Peterson recently released an official statement regarding the incident:
What do you think of Adrian Peterson’s sticky situation?
To spank or not to spank? How much is too much ‘discipline’?