Adrian Peterson heads to court in child abuse case

Published 8:14 am Wednesday, October 8, 2014

CONROE, Texas — Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson arrived in a Texas courtroom Wednesday to face a charge of felony child abuse for using a wooden switch to discipline his 4-year-old son earlier this year.

Accompanied by his wife and attorney, Peterson exited a black Cadillac Escalade outside the suburban Houston courthouse and was asked what he expected during his appearance.

“I don’t know. We shall see,” he said.

Email newsletter signup

Nearby was a person wearing a wildcat costume and holding a sign that said “Free AP” in sparkling letters, prompting a chuckle from Peterson’s attorney, Rusty Hardin. Several women stood near the courthouse entrance shrieking and talking about how handsome Peterson looked after he entered the building.

Peterson, who was put on paid leave by the Vikings under a special roster exemption from the NFL commissioner, was expected to plead not guilty during his first court appearance since being indicted last month. If convicted, Peterson faces up to two years in prison and a $10,000 fine in a case that surfaced as the NFL grapples with several players facing domestic violence allegations.

Peterson has said he never intended to harm his son and was only disciplining him in the same way he had been as a child growing up in East Texas.

Corporal punishment is legal in every U.S. state. Should Peterson’s case go to trial, legal experts say, the final determination of what is reasonable discipline will be based on the standards found in the local community — and Texas law offers no definition of what that is. It says the use of non-deadly force against someone younger than 18 is justified if a parent or guardian “reasonably believes the force is necessary to discipline the child or to safeguard or promote his welfare.”

The Texas Attorney General’s Office notes that belts and brushes “are accepted by many as legitimate disciplinary tools, but “electrical or phone cords, boards, yardsticks, ropes, shoes, and wires are likely to be considered instruments of abuse.”

F. Scott McCown, director of the Children’s Rights Clinic at the University of Texas School of Law that represents children in abuse and neglect cases, said people can have abstract debates about what is reasonable but they tend to come to a consensus when looking at a specific case.

Poll: AP can play if cleared in court
Most NFL fans think Minnesota Vikings star Adrian Peterson should only be allowed to play again if he is found not guilty of felony child abuse, according to the latest Associated Press-GfK poll.
In all, 54 percent of those surveyed said Peterson should return to the NFL if he is cleared in his Texas legal case. He is charged with injury to a child for admittedly using a wooden switch to spank his 4-year-old son.
According to the poll, 29 percent think Peterson should be allowed to play regardless of the outcome of his case, while 15 percent think he should never be allowed to play again.

Poll: Most fans think Goodell should keep job
NEW YORK (AP) — Most NFL fans believe Commissioner Roger Goodell should keep his job after his handling of recent domestic violence cases, according to a new Associated Press-GfK Poll.
Only 32 percent say Goodell should lose his job over the issue, with 66 percent saying he shouldn’t.
Support for his handling of the cases is much lower, though, with 42 percent saying they disapprove. The same percentage neither approve nor disapprove, with just 15 percent approving.