TEXAS, September 13, 2014— NFL star Adrian Peterson could face up to 10 years in jail if convicted of reckless child endangerment.
The Minnesota Vikings running back surrendered to authorities in Montgomery County, Texas this morning, after a grand jury indicted him on charges of reckless or negligent injury to a child. He was released less than 30 minutes later after posting $15,000 bond.
The charges relate to a May 2014 incident where Peterson used “a switch” to “spank” his 4-year-old son after the son pushed another one of Peterson’s children.
According to a statement from Peterson’s attorney
“This indictment follows Adrian’s full cooperation with authorities who have been looking into this matter. 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. Adrian has never hidden from what happened.”
The child reportedly was visiting Peterson during his summer break and the injuries were discovered at a routine doctor’s appointment after the child returned home to Minnesota.
The Vikings deactivated Peterson for their Sunday game against the New England Patriots and say they are continuing to collect information on the matter.
Thanks to the avalanche of public criticism over mishandling of Ray Rice incident, the NFL almost certainly will carefully review all information before making any decisions about punishment for Peterson.
Last October, Peterson’s 2-year-old son Tyrese died in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, after allegedly being assaulted by the boyfriend of the boy’s mother. Joseph Robert Patterson has been charged with murder and manslaughter in the case. Peterson reportedly found out only two months before the boy’s death that he was his father. Peterson saw Tyrese for the first time when he was in a coma.
One former girlfriend told TMZ earlier this year that Peterson could have as many as seven children.
Erica Syion, a former gentlemen’s club dancer from Dallas, said Peterson pays child support to all his children and spends time with them during vacations.
Peterson married his long-time girlfriend, Ashley Brown, in July.
According to legal experts, Peterson could face between two and 10 years in prison if convicted of reckless injury to a child, but is more likely to face a much lesser penalty. Negligent injury would indicate Peterson did not recognize his disciplinary actions presented a “substantial and unreasonable risk of harm.”
As Peterson is likely to both apologize for the incident and defend his parenting style, several Texas legal experts say Peterson could receive a very light sentence or avoid a guilty verdict completely. Texas tends to permit wide latitude in parental discipline involving physical force.
The NFL will also have to deal with the incident only weeks after coming under fire for mishandling the Ray Rice issue. However, Commissioner Goodell will approach the Peterson case carefully. Goodell may delay taking significant action against the running back until after a court hears the case.
However, given Goodell’s unlimited ability to mete out punishment, and the careful press scrutiny he faces, he may elect to take pro-active measures.
The Vikings, so far, have not suggested they will release Peterson.
Moreover, unlike the Ray Rice case, public outcry over the Peterson issue so far has been muted.