Adrian Peterson reaches plea agreement in felony child-abuse case

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Adrian Peterson reaches plea agreement in felony child-abuse case
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)
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)
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)
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)
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CONROE, Texas (AP) -- Minnesota Vikings star Adrian Peterson avoided jail time on Tuesday in a plea agreement reached with prosecutors to resolve his child abuse case.

Peterson was indicted in September on a felony charge of injury to a child for using a wooden switch to discipline his 4-year-old son earlier this year in suburban Houston. The All-Pro running back says he never intended to harm his son and was disciplining him in the same way he had been as a child growing up in East Texas.

The boy suffered cuts, marks and bruising to his thighs, back and on one of his testicles, according to court records.

The case revived a debate about corporal punishment, which is on the decline in the U.S. but still widely practiced in homes and schools.

Under the agreement approved by Montgomery County state District Judge Kelly Case and announced during a scheduled court hearing, Peterson pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor charge of reckless assault.

If convicted of felony child abuse, he could have faced up to two years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

A tentative trial date of Dec. 1 had been set in Peterson's case.

Peterson has been on paid leave from the Vikings under a special exemption from the NFL commissioner to take care of his legal problems. It was not immediately clear how the plea deal would affect his playing status.

Last month, a visiting judge denied a request by prosecutors to remove Case as judge in the case. Prosecutors had accused Case of being biased against them and wanted a new judge appointed.

The plea deal made moot a pending motion by prosecutors to revoke Peterson's $15,000 bond for alleged marijuana use.

Corporal punishment is legal in every state. The Texas Attorney General's Office notes that belts and brushes "are accepted by many as legitimate disciplinary `tools,'" but "electrical or phone cords, boards, yardsticks, ropes, shoes, and wires are likely to be considered instruments of abuse."

Texas law says the use of non-deadly force against someone younger than 18 is justified if a parent or guardian "reasonably believes the force is necessary to discipline the child or to safeguard or promote his welfare."



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