Adrian Peterson indicted on child abuse charges; deactivated for game

Minnesota Vikings star running back Adrian Peterson was indicted Friday on charges that he struck his young son with a switch in Texas, his attorney said in a statement.

A grand jury in Montgomery County returned the indictment Friday afternoon charging Peterson with causing injury to a child, said his attorney, Rusty Hardin.

Shortly before 3 p.m. local time, the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office issued a warrant for Peterson’s arrest. The department declined to offer any additional information, saying only that Peterson was not in custody on Friday.

Peterson allegedly used a switch to spank his young son, who spent the summer with the All-Pro running back in Texas, according to Hardin’s statement and an NFL source with knowledge of the situation.

Peterson has been cooperating with authorities and testifed before a grand jury for several hours, Hardin said.


“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 in his statement. “Adrian has never hidden from what happened.”

The Vikings knew of the incident for several weeks, but thought Peterson had been cleared of all criminal charges, an NFL source told the Los Angeles Times.

The abuse allegations surfaced shortly after the child returned to his mother’s Minnesota home, according to the source, who said a doctor noticed “a mark” caused by a switch during a routine appointment.

Calls and emails seeking comment from the Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office were not immediately returned.

“The Vikings are in the process of gathering information regarding the legal situation involving Adrian Peterson,” the team said in a statement, referring further questions to Hardin.

Late Friday, the Vikings decided to deactivate Peterson for Sunday’s game against the New England Patriots. A spokeswoman for Hardin declined to comment on the issuance of an arrest warrant.

Last October, a 27-year-old man was accused of beating Peterson’s 2-year-old son to death in South Dakota. Joseph Patterson was charged with aggravated assault and aggravated battery in that case. Patterson pleaded not guilty.

Peterson has not addressed the indictment publicly, but posted a message on his Twitter account about overcoming adversity roughly two hours before news of the court proceedings began to circulate.

“Weapons may form but won’t prosper!” Peterson wrote. “God has you covered don’t stress or worry.”

News of an indictment against one of the NFL’s premier players comes at an already tumultuous time for the league as it deals with the fallout of the Ray Rice scandal.

The Baltimore Ravens’ running back was cut by the team and suspended indefinitely earlier this week after footage of him punching his now-wife Janay in an Atlantic City casino elevator was released by TMZ.

The controversy widened when it was reported that NFL officials had access to the previously unseen footage. Rice had been suspended for two games by Commissioner Roger Goodell, prompting criticism from many who believed the suspension was far too lenient compared to the lengthy drug-related suspensions normally handed down by Goodell’s office.

Rice served no jail time for the incident, entering into a pretrial intervention program aimed at first-time offenders in New Jersey. The charge will be removed from his criminal record if he completes the program without incident.

Former FBI Director Robert Mueller will now conduct an independent investigation of the NFL’s handling of the Rice scandal.

Peterson has led the NFL in rushing yards twice during his six-year career. He was selected the league’s most valuable player in 2012, less than a year after tearing his ACL, when he rushed for 2,097 yards and nearly broke Eric Dickerson’s record for most rushing yards in a season.

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