Peterson indictment: more NFL off-field trouble

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Adrian Peterson Indicted


By DAVE CAMPBELL

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- The NFL was already under heavy criticism this week for the way it handled a domestic violence case involving a prominent player.

Now the league has another public relations problem: A charge of child abuse for an even bigger star.

Running back Adrian Peterson was indicted in Texas for using a branch to spank one of his sons and the Minnesota Vikings promptly benched him for their game Sunday against New England.

Peterson's attorney, Rusty Hardin, said the charge of injury to a child accuses his client of using a "switch" to punish the boy, whose age was not disclosed.

"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," Hardin said Friday. "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."

A warrant was issued for Peterson's arrest in Montgomery County near Houston, where he has a home, and he will have to turn himself in. There is no timeline for when he will appear in Texas, Hardin said.

"We are just obligated to try to get it done as soon as possible, which we intend to honor," he said.

The Vikings, about an hour after stating their acknowledgment of the matter, said Peterson would be on the inactive list for their home opener against the Patriots.

The stunning sequence of events reignited a debate about corporal punishment but also added fuel to a fire burning hot since Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice first received a two-game suspension for hitting his then-fiancee.

An investigation headed by former FBI director Robert Mueller was convened to assess the league's handling of the situation, after a longer version of a security video surfaced revealing Rice's punch to the face of his now-wife in a casino elevator that knocked her out cold.

Acknowledging he "didn't get it right" with the initial discipline, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell announced tougher penalties for players accused of domestic violence, including six weeks for a first offense and at least a year for a second.

The league has also come under scrutiny in the cases of Carolina Panthers defensive end Greg Hardy and San Francisco 49ers defensive tackle Ray McDonald, both still playing with domestic abuse cases pending. Hardy was convicted July 15 of assaulting a woman and communicating threats, but he is appealing. San Jose police have been continuing to actively investigate an Aug. 31 incident involving McDonald.

Goodell's memo sent to all 32 teams said more severe discipline will be imposed "if there are aggravating circumstances such as the presence or use of a weapon, choking, repeated striking, or when the act is committed against a pregnant woman or in the presence of a child." Whether the charge against Peterson would fall under that umbrella was not immediately clear.

The NFL did not respond Friday to requests for comment on Peterson's situation.

The charge of child abuse was especially jarring, given the tragedy that unfolded around Peterson last season.

Not long after finding out that he had a 2-year-old son living in South Dakota, Peterson rushed to a hospital there after police said the boy was brutally beaten by his mother's boyfriend. The boy died, and a 28-year-old man is scheduled for trial next month on second-degree murder charges.

A man who identified himself as Peterson's uncle, Chris Peterson, answered the door at the running back's house in Eden Prairie, Minnesota, near Vikings headquarters. He said Peterson was not there and that the family had no comment.

Widely considered the best running back in the league, Peterson has rushed for 10,190 yards and 86 touchdowns in his eight-year career including a 2,097-yard season in 2012 that fell 9 yards short of the all-time record.

Peterson did not practice Thursday because of what coach Mike Zimmer called a "veteran day," allowing experienced players to rest, but Peterson was at the team facility and spoke to reporters that day about facing the Patriots. Matt Asiata is Peterson's backup.

Peterson returned to practice Friday and was in the locker room following the workout with the rest of his teammates for lunch. Shortly thereafter, Peterson posted a message on his Twitter account that said in part: "It's your season! Weapons may form but won't prosper! God has you covered don't stress or worry!"

Hardin, his defense attorney, is a familiar name in sports circles. He successfully defended Roger Clemens in his recent perjury trial over the alleged use of performance-enhancing drugs and two years ago represented Los Angeles Lakers forward Jordan Hill, who was sentenced to one year of probation after pleading no contest to assaulting his former girlfriend.

He has worked with Peterson before, too: In 2012, he said Peterson was the victim after the player was charged with misdemeanor resisting arrest following an incident at a Houston nightclub.

---

Associated Press Writer Jeff Baenen contributed to this report from Eden Prairie, Minnesota.

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Peterson indictment: more NFL off-field trouble
Minnesota Vikings' Adrian Peterson, right, arrives for a hearing for the appeal of his suspension in New York, Tuesday, Dec. 2, 2014. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
Minnesota Vikings' Adrian Peterson arrives for a hearing for the appeal of his suspension in New York, Tuesday, Dec. 2, 2014. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - NOVEMBER 30: A fan holds up a sign in support of Adrian Peterson #28 of the Minnesota Vikings during the third quarter of the game against the Carolina Panthers on November 30, 2014 at TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Vikings defeated the Panthers 31-13. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
CONROE, TX - NOVEMBER 04: Football running back Adrian Peterson of the Minnesota Vikings arrives for a court hearing on charges of child abuse with his wife Ashley Brown at the Montgomery County Courthouse on November 4, 2014 in Conroe, Texas. Peterson entered a no contest plea and will avoid jail time. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
CONROE, TX - NOVEMBER 04: NFL running back Adrian Peterson of the Minnesota Vikings addresses the media after pleading 'no contest' to a lesser misdemeanor charge of reckless assault November 4, 2014 in Conroe, Texas. Peterson's plea to the Class A misdemeanor comes with two years of deferred adjudication. Peterson also received a $4,000 fine and 80 hours of required community service. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
CONROE, TX - NOVEMBER 04: Defense attorney Rusty Hardin, (L) and NFL running back Adrian Peterson of the of the Minnesota Vikings address the media after Peterson plead 'no contest' to a lesser misdemeanor charge of reckless assault on November 4, 2014 in Conroe, Texas. Peterson's plea to the Class A misdemeanor comes with two years of deferred adjudication. Peterson also received a $4,000 fine and 80 hours of required community service. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson, center, navigates through members of the media after making his first court appearance Wednesday, Oct. 8, 2014, in Conroe, Texas. A Texas judge has tentatively set a Dec. 1 trial date for Peterson on a charge of felony child abuse for using a wooden switch to discipline his 4-year-old son. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson, center, stands with his wife Ashley Brown Peterson, center left, and mother Bonita Jackson, far left, as they listen to Peterson's attorney Rusty Hardin, right, outside the courthouse after making his first court appearance Wednesday, Oct. 8, 2014, in Conroe, Texas. A Texas judge has tentatively set a Dec. 1 trial date for Peterson on a charge of felony child abuse for using a wooden switch to discipline his 4-year-old son. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip, Pool)
CONROE, TX - OCTOBER 08: NFL player Adrian Peterson of the Minnesota Vikings walks with his wife Ashley Brown to a court appearance at the Montgomery County municipal building on October 8, 2014 in Conroe, Texas. Peterson did not enter a plea, and after about an hour in the courtroom the hearing was reset. A tentative trial date was set for Dec. 1. Petersen is facing charges of reckless or negligent injury to a child. (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
CONROE, TX - OCTOBER 08: A fan wears a wildcat suit in support of NFL player Adrian Peterson of the Minnesota Vikings as Petersen prepares to arrive at a court appearance at the Lee G. Alworth Building and the Montgomery County 9th District Court in Conroe, Texas on October 8, 2014 in Conroe, Texas. Peterson did not enter a plea, and after about an hour in the courtroom the hearing was reset. A tentative trial date was set for Dec. 1. Petersen is facing charges of reckless or negligent injury to a child. (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
CONROE, TX - OCTOBER 08: NFL player Adrian Peterson of the Minnesota Vikings enters the courtroom with his wife Ashley Brown and his attorney Rusty Hardin (R) at the Lee G. Alworth Building and the Montgomery County 9th District Court on October 8, 2014 in Conroe, Texas. Petersen is facing charges of reckless or negligent injury to a child. (Photo by David J. Phillip-Pool/Getty Images)
Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson, right, sits with his wife Ashley Brown Peterson, left, during his first court appearance Wednesday, Oct. 8, 2014, in Conroe, Texas A Texas judge has tentatively set a Dec. 1 trial date for Peterson on a charge of felony child abuse for using a wooden switch to discipline his 4-year-old son. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip, Pool)
Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson, left, listens to attorney Brian Wice, right, while making his first court appearance Wednesday, Oct. 8, 2014, in Conroe, Texas. A judge tentatively set a Dec. 1 trial date for Peterson on a charge of felony child abuse for using a wooden switch to discipline his 4-year-old son. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip, Pool)
Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson, center, leaves the courtroom with his attorney Rusty Hardin, left, after making his first court appearance Wednesday, Oct. 8, 2014, in Conroe, Texas. A Texas judge has tentatively set a Dec. 1 trial date for Peterson on a charge of felony child abuse for using a wooden switch to discipline his 4-year-old son. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip, Pool)
CONROE, TX - OCTOBER 08: NFL player Adrian Peterson of the Minnesota Vikings chats with his attorney Rusty Hardin (R) during a court appearance at the Lee G. Alworth Building and the Montgomery County 9th District Court on October 8, 2014 in Conroe, Texas. Peterson did not enter a plea, and after about an hour in the courtroom the hearing was reset. A tentative trial date was set for Dec. 1. Petersen is facing charges of reckless or negligent injury to a child. (Photo by David J. Phillip-Pool/Getty Images)
This photo provided by the Montgomery County sheriff’s office shows the booking photo of Adrian Peterson. Peterson was indicted in Texas for using a branch to spank one of his sons and the Minnesota Vikings promptly benched him for their game Sunday, Sept. 14, 2014 against the New England Patriots. Peterson turned himself in early Saturday at a jail in Montgomery County, near Houston, where he has a home. He was processed and released. (AP Photo/Montgomery County sheriff’s office)
The Montgomery County home of running back Adrian Peterson is shown Saturday, Sept. 13, 2014, in Spring, Texas, north of Houston. Peterson was indicted in Texas for using a branch to spank one of his sons. He turned himself in early Saturday at a jail in Montgomery County and was processed and released according to a jail records official. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson gives his son Adrian Jr. a kiss following an NFL football training camp practice, Friday, Aug. 1, 2014, in Mankato, Minn. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
NASHVILLE, TN - AUGUST 28: Running back Adrian Peterson #28 of the Minnesota Vikings looks on during a preseason game against the Tennessee Titans at LP Field on August 28, 2014 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Ronald C. Modra/Sports Imagery/ Getty Images)
ST. LOUIS, MO - SEPTEMBER 7: Adrian Peterson #28 of the Minnesota Vikings rushes during a game against the St. Louis Rams at the Edward Jones Dome on September 7, 2014 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Michael B. Thomas/Getty Images)
Adrian Peterson accepts the award for best comeback at the ESPY Awards on Wednesday, July 17, 2013, at Nokia Theater in Los Angeles. (Photo by John Shearer/Invision/AP)
In this Aug. 16, 2014, photo, Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson (28) warms up before a NFL preseason football game against the Arizona Cardinals in Minneapolis.Millions of people using the top three fantasy football platforms have generated three different answers to the question of that top draft pick. Yahoo says LeSean McCoy of Philadelphia. ESPN says Adrian Peterson. CBS Sports says it’s Jamaal Charles of Kansas City. (AP Photo/Ann Heisenfelt)
Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson greets fans before an NFL preseason football game against the Kansas City Chiefs in Kansas City, Mo., Saturday, Aug. 23, 2014. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
FILE - In this Dec. 1, 2013, file photo, Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson, left, tries to break a tackle from Chicago Bears free safety Chris Conte during the fourth quarter of an NFL football game in Minneapolis. Long before quarterbacks took center stage, the NFL was a running backs league. From Red Grange to Jim Brown to O.J. Simpson to Walter Payton to Emmitt Smith, the workhorse back has been a symbol of toughness and perseverance. (AP Photo/Ann Heisenfelt, File)
Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson, right, gets a block from offensive tackle Matt Kalil as St. Louis Rams defensive end Robert Quinn, left, gives chase during the third quarter an NFL football game Sunday, Sept. 7, 2014, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/L.G. Patterson)
Carolina Panthers cornerback Captain Munnerlyn, left, chases down Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson during the first half of an NFL football game in Minneapolis, Sunday, Oct. 13, 2013. (AP Photo/Ann Heisenfelt)
Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson (28) talks with reporters at the end of an NFL organized team activity at the Vikings football practice facility in Eden Prairie, Minn., Thursday, May 29, 2014.(AP Photo/Andy Clayton-King)
Minnesota Vikings quarterback Matt Cassel, right, fakes a handoff to running back Adrian Peterson during NFL football training camp, Sunday, July 27, 2014, in Mankato, Minn. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
In this Sunday, Dec. 15, 2013, photo, Injured Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson stands on the sidelines during the first half of the Vikings' NFL football game against the Philadelphia Eagles in Minneapolis. Peterson returned to practice for Minnesota on Friday, Dec. 20, and is expected to play in Sunday's game at Cincinnati as long as he doesn't have any setbacks with his sprained right foot. The league's second-leading rusher, Peterson is listed as questionable for the Vikings (AP Photo/Ann Heisenfelt)
Minnesota Vikings owner Zygi Wilf, right, applauds running back Adrian Peterson as he is introduced prior to groundbreaking ceremonies for the new Vikings NFL football stadium, Tuesday Dec. 3, 2013, in Minneapolis. AP Photo/Jim Mone)
Minnesota Vikings' running back Adrian Peterson smiles, during a press conference at the Grove Hotel in Watford, north London, Wednesday, Sept. 25, 2013. The Vikings play Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday in a NFL regular season football game at Wembley Stadium in London. (AP Photo/Sang Tan)
Vikings runningback Adrian Peterson catches a ball during their football practice at the Grove Hotel in Watford, England, Thursday Sept. 26, 2013. The Pittsburgh Steelers are to play the Minnesota Vikings in the NFL International Series at Wembley Stadium in London on Sunday, Sept 29. (AP Photo/Sean Ryan, NFL)
Adrian Peterson of the Minnesota Vikings arrives at the 2nd Annual NFL Honoros, on Saturday, Feb. 2. 2013 in New Orleans (Photo by Dario Cantatore/Invision/AP)
Adrian Peterson of the Minnesota Vikings accepts the NFL.com Fantasy Player of the Year award at the 2nd Annual NFL Honors on Saturday, Feb. 2, 2013 in New Orleans. (Photo by AJ Mast/Invision/AP)
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