Adrian Peterson turned himself in to Texas authorities overnight, booked on charges of injury to a child and then released after posting $15,000 bond, according to multiple reports.
Peterson, the 29-year-old running back and face of the Minnesota Vikings, traveled to the Montgomery County Jail late Friday after a warrant was issued for his arrest that afternoon in connection with an indictment that accuses the star athlete of hitting his 4-year-old son with a switch, the Star Tribune reports.
If the case against Peterson goes to trial, it would likely take place sometime next year, according to Phil Grant, Montgomery (Texas) County first assistant district attorney.
At a news conference Saturday afternoon, Grant said Peterson faces felony charges of “injury to a child with criminal negligence or recklessness,” the Star Tribune reports. The maximum penalty is up to two years in jail and a $10,000 fine. Probation is also an option for those without criminal records, Grant said.
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Corporal punishment is allowed in Texas, and Grant said there is a “reasonable discipline” defense to the charges that Peterson faces.
“Obviously parents are entitled to discipline their children as they see fit, except when that discipline exceeds what the community would say is reasonable,” Grant said. “A grand jury having indicted this case looked at the injuries that were inflicted upon this child and determined that that discipline was not reasonable and did not reflect the community standard of what was reasonable discipline.”
Grant said Peterson's initial court appearance has not yet been scheduled, but would likely take place within the next few weeks.
Peterson’s attorney Rusty Hardin confirmed the charges Friday, saying the charged conduct "involved using a switch to spank his son," and Peterson has cooperated with the investigation.
"Adrian is a loving father who used his judgment as a parent to discipline his son. He used the same kind of discipline with his child that he experienced as a child growing up in east Texas. Adrian has never hidden from what happened. He has cooperated fully with authorities and voluntarily testified before the grand jury for several hours. Adrian will address the charges with the same respect and responsiveness he has brought to this inquiry from its beginning. It is important to remember that Adrian never intended to harm his son and deeply regrets the unintentional injury.”
The Vikings released a statement Friday afternoon saying the following:
“The Vikings are in the process of gathering information regarding the legal situation involving Adrian Peterson. At this time, we will defer further questions to Adrian’s attorney Rusty Hardin.”
The team also announced Peterson has been deactivated for Sunday’s game against the Patriots. An NFL spokesman said Saturday the case would be reviewed under the league’s personal conduct policy, according to CBS News.
According to the Star Tribune, the incident occurred months ago, when the boy was visiting Peterson in Texas. When the boy returned home to Minnesota, a doctor noticed the injuries and contacted authorities, the paper says.
NFL.com reports an unidentified Texas police department initially called the City of Houston Police Department with a child endangerment report. It was eventually passed to the county, then the district attorney, then a grand jury, NFL.com says.
Jay Glazer, a longtime NFL reporter currently with FOX Sports, tweeted the following:
NFL Network reporter Ian Rapoport said something similar Friday:
Glazer also tweeted Peterson's bond was actually $21,000, not $15,000 as has been widely reported.
The Vikings running back's indictment comes days after former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice was suspended indefinitely, following the release of surveillance video that appears to show him punching his then-fiance in a casino elevator.
Rice was indicted in March and the NFL suspended him in July for two games. But after the video surfaced this week, the Ravens terminated his contract and the NFL lengthened its suspension.
NFL officials in August announced stricter punishment for domestic violence cases, the Associated Press reported: A six-week suspension for a first offense, and a yearlong suspension for a second.
WCCO reports it obtained photos from the Houston Police Department showing the injuries Peterson's son is said to have sustained as a result of the incident. But the Houston Chronicle says Houston police spokesperson John Cannon claimed those images were not released by the police department, adding they "didn't even take any photos."
However, Houston's KHOU says the Montgomery County District Attorney asked the county sheriff department to launch a criminal investigation into who leaked the police report and photos connected to the charges.
Peterson has spent his entire eight year career with the Vikings. He missed practice Thursday for a “non-injury-related issue,” but returned on Friday. It is not known if the issue was related to the indictment.
Last October, Peterson’s two-year-old son died after he was allegedly assaulted by a man who was dating the boy's mother. Tyrese Ruffin died of severe head injuries in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.