Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson has pleaded no contest to the misdemeanor charge of recklessly assaulting his four-year-old son.
The NFL star will avoid a jail sentence after reaching a plea agreement with a court in Texas.
Adrian Peterson, who used a wooden implement to discipline his son in the Texas town of Spring in May, was put on probation and fined $4,000.
The player has been on paid leave pending resolution of the case.
He had been facing a possible two years in prison but the judge in Conroe, 40 miles north of Houston, accepted the plea agreement.
Adrian Peterson used a wooden implement to discipline his four-year-old son
Adrian Peterson will also do 80 hours of community service.
He was said to have punished his son after the boy pushed another of his children off a motorbike video game.
The “whooping” – how Adrian Peterson allegedly referred to the incident in a police interview – resulted in cuts and bruises to the boy’s back, buttocks and legs, local media reported.
Adrian Peterson’s defense attorney Rusty Hardin earlier described his client as a “loving father” who had “used the same kind of discipline with his child that he experienced as a child growing up in east Texas”.
“It is important to remember that Adrian never intended to harm his son and deeply regrets the unintentional injury,” Rusty Hardin said.
NFL boss Roger Goodell has said he “got it wrong” in dealing with the violence scandals that have plagued the American football league.
In his first public statement in a week, Roger Goodell apologized for his mistakes and pledged to implement new personal conduct policies.
“We strongly condemn and will punish behavior that is totally unacceptable,” he said.
He has faced calls to resign after a series of assaults involving players.
The commissioner said on Friday he had not considered stepping down and that he had the support of the team owners.
“We will get our house in order,” Roger Goodell said at a press conference in New York.
Roger Goodell announced the NFL plans to set up a new personal conduct committee and draft new rules for the league’s players and staff, which he hoped would be in place for the Super Bowl in early 2015.
The NFL, and Roger Goodell in particular, have been criticized over their handling of an abuse case involving running back Ray Rice from the Baltimore Ravens.
Roger Goodell has said he got it wrong in dealing with the violence scandals that have plagued the NFL
Roger Goodell initially banned Ray Rice for two games after video emerged of him punching his then-fiancée in the face and knocking her out in a lift in Atlantic City in February.
It was only after the video was posted online in August that Ray Rice was cut by the Ravens and banned from the league indefinitely by Roger Goodell.
“I got it wrong in the handling of the Ray Rice matter,” he said on September 19.
“But now I will get it right and do whatever is necessary to accomplish that.”
The NFL has also come under fire for its handling of other abuse cases, including Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson, who has been charged with child abuse in Texas after allegedly whipping his four-year-old son.
In recent days, some NFL sponsors have made public statements urging it to do more to address the issue.
On September 19, Procter & Gamble announced it was dropping an on-field breast cancer awareness promotion it had been planning with the NFL.
“Domestic violence is completely unacceptable and we have strongly urged the NFL to take swift and decisive action to address this issue,” said a spokesman.
“Our decision to cancel this on field activity was related to this ongoing issue.”
Other sponsors like PepsiCo and Anheuser-Busch have expressed concern. Women make up about 35% of the average television audience of games.
Roger Goodell said NFL staff would be required to undergo training on the prevention of domestic violence and sexual assault starting within 30 days.
Roger Goodell said the league will partner with the National Domestic Violence Hotline and National Sexual Violence Resource Center.
The Minnesota Vikings’ owners announced in a statement to the media that they are following the recommendation of the NFL and placing Adrian Peterson on the exempt / commissioner’s permission list, which bars him from all team activities.
The statement said:
This has been an ongoing and deliberate process since last Friday’s news. In conversations with the NFL over the last two days, the Vikings advised the League of the team’s decision to revisit the situation regarding Adrian Peterson. In response, the League informed the team of the option to place Adrian on the Exempt/Commissioner’s Permission list, which will require that Adrian remain away from all team activities while allowing him to take care of his personal situation until the legal proceedings are resolved. After giving the situation additional thought, we have decided this is the appropriate course of action for the organization and for Adrian.
We are always focused on trying to make the right decision as an organization. We embrace our role – and the responsibilities that go with it — as a leader in the community, as a business partner and as an organization that can build bridges with our fans and positively impact this great region. We appreciate and value the input we have received from our fans, our partners and the community.
The Minnesota Vikings’ owners placed Adrian Peterson on the exempt list, which bars him from all team activities (photo Wikipedia)
While we were trying to make a balanced decision yesterday, after further reflection we have concluded that this resolution is best for the Vikings and for Adrian. We want to be clear: we have a strong stance regarding the protection and welfare of children, and we want to be sure we get this right. At the same time we want to express our support for Adrian and acknowledge his seven-plus years of outstanding commitment to this organization and this community. Adrian emphasized his desire to avoid further distraction to his teammates and coaches while focusing on his current situation; this resolution accomplishes these objectives as well.
We will support Adrian during this legal and personal process, but we firmly believe and realize this is the right decision. We hope that all of our fans can respect the process that we have gone through to reach this final decision.
“This is the best possible outcome given the circumstances,” Adrian Peterson’s agent, Ben Dogra, told The Associated Press.
“Adrian understands the gravity of the situation and this enables him to take care of his personal situation. We fully support Adrian and he looks forward to watching his teammates and coaches being successful during his absence.”
Shortly after the announcement, Adrian Peterson for the second time in a week responded by tweeting a biblical verse.
Adrian Peterson was charged on September 12 with causing injury to a child age 14 or younger. He allegedly hit one of his sons with a wooden switch while disciplining the boy on or around May 18.