Adrian Peterson Pleads No Contest in Whipping, Avoids Jail

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NFL star Adrian Peterson pleaded no contest Tuesday in a Texas court to one count of misdemeanor reckless assault, avoiding jail time for whipping one of his children.

NFL player Adrian Peterson is seen in a booking photo after turning himself in on Friday, Sept. 12, 2014. (Credit: Montgomery County Sheriff's Office)
NFL player Adrian Peterson is seen in a booking photo after turning himself in on Friday, Sept. 12, 2014. (Credit: Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office)

Peterson appeared in a Montgomery County court in Conroe after prosecutors and his attorneys reached a plea deal. Judge Kelly Case agreed to the terms of the deal, in which Peterson pleaded to a lesser charge.

The Minnesota Vikings star was sentenced to two years of probation, a $4,000 fine and 80 hours of community service, half of which will be taken care of by a public service announcement.

He also will take parenting classes.

Peterson gave a brief statement outside the courthouse.

“I truly regret this incident,” he said. “I stand here and I take full responsibility for my actions. I love my son more than any one of you can even imagine.”

He didn’t address a question about when he will return to the NFL.

“We will review the matter, including the court record, and then make a determination on his status. We cannot provide a timetable,” NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said.

Peterson’s attorney, Rusty Hardin, called the plea deal “fair and just.”

Montgomery County District Attorney Brett Ligon said Peterson wasn’t treated any differently because he is one of the NFL’s marquee players.

Peterson — who in 2011 signed a seven-year contract worth more than $100 million and is considered one of the NFL’s best running backs, if not the best — left the Vikings in September after the team deactivated, then activated and then deactivated him again.

He was accused in Texas of whipping his 4-year-old son with a “switch,” or slender tree branch, and had originally been charged with felony child abuse. He faced up to two years in prison and a fine.

Ligon said the punishment was about behavior modification.

“I believe that Mr. Peterson is accepting responsibility (for hurting his child),” Ligon said. “I’m looking forward to him … taking a role as a responsible parent.”

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