District Attorney Brett Ligon said during a press conference that his office is taking the abuse charges "very seriously," adding that the Montgomery County DA office is known for "effective and aggressive" persecution of child-abuse cases.
Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson flew to Texas and turned himself in at the sheriff's office in Montgomery County early Saturday, USA Today reported. He was booked on a charge of injury to a child (his son), and released on $15,000 bond.Troubling allegations regarding one of its marquee stars were not what the NFL needed after a week of scandal and outrage — but they're just what the league got. Adrian Peterson, the star running back for the Minnesota Vikings, was indicted on charges of reckless or negligent injury to a child and won't play this weekend.
Reports emerged on Friday afternoon that Peterson had been charged in Montgomery County in Texas, northwest of Houston for beating the child with a "switch," or a tree branch that's been stripped of leaves. The Montgomery County Sheriff's Office released a statement two hours later that a warrant had been issued for Peterson's arrest, and images of the boy's welts surfaced online.
Rusty Hardin, Peterson's attorney, released a statement confirming the indictment and calling Peterson "a loving parent who used his judgment as a parent to discipline his son" shortly after the news broke.
TMZ reported that the alleged victim is a male child from Minnesota who was visiting Peterson in Texas in May. Peterson is one of the most popular and high-profile players in the NFL. He was named NFL MVP in 2008 and led the league in rushing in 2008 and 2012.
The Vikings released a statement shortly after the news broke: "The Vikings are in the process of gathering information regarding the legal situation involving Adrian Peterson. At this time, we will defer further question to Adrian's attorney Rusty Hardin."
Houston's Sports Radio 610 reportedly obtained a police report in which Peterson admitted that he did "whoop" a four-year-old son while the boy was visiting him in Houston from Minnesota last May. When the child returned to Minnesota, his mother took him to the doctor and abrasions were found on his thighs, lower back and buttocks. The boy reportedly told the doctor that Peterson had hit him with a tree branch. The report includes graphic images apparently showing the four-year-old's injuries.
Peterson grabbed a tree branch, removed its leaves and administered what he called a "whooping" to the boy after he pushed another one Peterson's kids "off of a motorbike video game," according to CBS Houston. CBS also reports that, in text messages to the child's mother, Peterson said one wound on the kid's leg might make her particularly upset and that Peterson "got him in the nuts once," apparently accidentally.
“Never do I go overboard!" Peterson allegedly said in a subsequent text message, according to police reports obtained by CBS Houston. "But all my kids will know, hey daddy has the biggie heart but don’t play no games when it comes to acting right.”
Peterson was apparently nonchalant about the punishment in interviews with police, framing it as a form of discipline consistent with what was administered to him as a kid. But Peterson's son's statements to authorities reportedly raised more concerns.
The son told investigators that "Daddy Peterson hit me on my face," according to CBS Houston, and that he feared Peterson would punch him in the face if the "whooping" was reported. He also reportedly said Peterson put leaves in his mouth while hitting him with the switch and that Peterson "likes belts and switches" and "has a whooping room."
Peterson reportedly told police he thought he struck his son between 10 and 15 times, but couldn't be completely sure because he doesn't "ever count how many pops I give my kids." He also said he regretted the extent of the injuries on his son's legs, but that he he felt "very confident in my actions because I know my intent." Peterson said the end of the switch was wrapping around his son's legs — something he didn't realize at the time.
“I have nothing to hide, but I also understand when a child has marks like that on his leg, they have to report that," Peterson reportedly told police.
Peterson has no known prior arrests. He did have a 2-year-old son who died in 2013 due to child abuse at the hands of a man who had been dating the boy's mother. Peterson's Twitter feed posted an inspirational religious message not long before the news broke.