Vikings star Adrian Peterson turns himself in, freed on bail

Posted at 9:19 PM, Sep 13, 2014
and last updated 2014-09-13 23:19:24-04
By Greg Botelho and Ray Sanchez


(CNN) — NFL star Adrian Peterson turned himself in to authorities early Saturday in east Texas, one day after news broke that Peterson had in the local prosecutor’s view hurt his child “with criminal negligence or recklessly” under the guise of discipline.

Shortly after reporting to authorities, Peterson posted $15,000 bail and was released, according to the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office.

That $15,000 likely won’t make much of a dent on Peterson’s checkbook. He agreed to a lucrative contract in 2011 with the Minnesota Vikings, which numerous publications, including, reported would be worth $100 million (including $36 million guaranteed) over a 7-year period.

Still, the charge he faces has already impacted Peterson negatively: He won’t play Sunday, at least, after the Vikings deactivated him for their game with the New England Patriots. And the NFL said it was reviewing the incident under league’s personal conduct policy.

Peterson hasn’t spoken publicly since a grand jury indicted him on a felony charge of child abuse. But his lawyer has, saying that Peterson used “a switch to spank his son” in doling out discipline much like “he experienced as a child growing up in East Texas.”

“(Peterson) will continue to insist on his innocence of any intended wrongdoing,” the attorney, Rusty Hardin, said Friday.

On Saturday, Montgomery County Assistant District Attorney Phil Grant — whose office made the case against Peterson to the grand jury over a period of weeks — said prosecutors “will take this charge extremely seriously and we look forward to presenting this case to a jury.”

According to Texas law, a person can be convicted of injury to a child if they are proven to have caused bodily or mental injury “intentionally, knowingly, recklessly or with criminal negligence” or causing such harm by omission. The crime is punishable by up to two years in a state jail and a $1,000 fine.

In Texas, someone can defend himself against a charge of injury to a child if they can prove it happened while they were administering “reasonable discipline,” Grant said.

But that’s not what prosecutors think happened in Peterson’s case.

“Obviously, parents are entitled to discipline their children as they see fit, except for when that discipline exceeds what the community would say is reasonable,” the district attorney said. “And so, 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.”

NFL fallout

News of Peterson’s indictment rocked the NFL.

Part of it has to do with the fact that Peterson has long been one of the league’s most popular and successful players.

His best campaign was in 2012, when the Palestine, Texas, born player earned Most Valuable Player honors after rushing for 2,097 yards, just nine yards short of the single-season mark.

The historic 2012 campaign came after a potentially career-ending knee injury.

Peterson’s 2-year-old son was found unresponsive last year in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, and later died of what authorities said were injuries consistent with abuse. Joseph Robert Patterson, the boyfriend of the boy’s mother, has been charged with murder in that case.

The felony injury to a child charge also comes at a tough time for the NFL generally because of the Ray Rice case.

League officials have been heavily criticized for their actions in that case, including the initial two-game suspension given to Rice prior to surveillance video that emerged showing him delivering a knockout blow to then-fiancee Janay Palmer in a casino elevator. (The two are now married.)

After that video came out earlier this week, Commissioner Roger Goodell made Rice’s suspension indefinite. That decision was not enough, however, to placate critics — especially after reports surfaced that NFL executives allegedly had received a copy in April of the damning video from inside the elevator and that Rice himself might have admitted in June to Goodell that he’d punched Palmer.

These reports have shifted more criticism to Goodell and other NFL executives.

Rice certainly hasn’t gotten a pass either, especially with his future up in the air and the video showing him hitting Palmer being played again and again on sports and news broadcasts.

Still, he has gotten some support. He returned Saturday to watch a high school football game in his hometown of New Rochelle, New York, which is a New York City suburb. He was joined on the sidelines by Palmer.

“Ray is a part of our family, and a part of this program, and that’s why I’m very happy he’s here today because, because he made a mistake,” New Rochelle High School football head coach Louis DeRienzo said. “And he made a very terrible mistake, but I know the character of the man and he will rise from this.”

Principal Reginald Richardson noted that Rice’s Baltimore Ravens jersey had been taken down from inside the school because of the ordeal and that school officials have condemned what happened in “no uncertain terms.”

“At the same time,” Richardson said, “we do support Ray and his family as they go through this hard, difficult time. Because, again, this is his home.”

CNN’s Joe Sutton, Michael Martinez and Jill Martin contributed to this report.

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