Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson was released on a $15,000 bond early Saturday morning less than half an hour after he turned himself in to authorities in Montgomery, Texas. Peterson had been briefly detained after he was indicted by a grand jury that accuses him of reckless or negligent injury of a child due to his alleged use of what he called a “switch”—a tree branch stripped of its leaves and twigs—to spank his four-year-old son, reports ESPN. A doctor reported the child’s injuries to police, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune.
Peterson, who is the face of the Vikings, has been cooperating with authorities and did not mean any harm, according to a statement issued by his lawyer, who says the star player just did what his parents did to him.
“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,” Hardin said in his statement. “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.”
Hitting a child with a stick seems cruel enough, but the indictment makes it clear there was much more to it than that. CBS Houston reports:
The “whooping” – as Peterson put it when interviewed by police – occurred in Spring, Texas, in May. Peterson’s son had pushed another one of Peterson’s children off of a motorbike video game. As punishment, Peterson grabbed a tree branch – which he consistently referred to as a “switch” – removed the leaves and struck the child repeatedly.
The beating allegedly resulted in numerous injuries to the child, including cuts and bruises to the child’s back, buttocks, ankles, legs and scrotum, along with defensive wounds to the child’s hands. Peterson then texted the boy’s mother, saying that one wound in particular would make her “mad at me about his leg. I got kinda good wit the tail end of the switch.”
Peterson also allegedly said via text message to the child’s mother that he “felt bad after the fact when I notice the switch was wrapping around hitting I (sic) thigh” and also acknowledged the injury to the child’s scrotum in a text message, saying, “Got him in nuts once I noticed. But I felt so bad, n I’m all tearing that butt up when needed! I start putting them in timeout. N save the whooping for needed memories!”
In further text messages, Peterson allegedly said, “Never do I go overboard! But all my kids will know, hey daddy has the biggie heart but don’t play no games when it comes to acting right.”
According to police reports, the child, however, had a slightly different story, telling authorities that “Daddy Peterson hit me on my face.” The child also expressed worry that Peterson would punch him in the face if the child reported the incident to authorities. He also said that he had been hit by a belt and that “there are a lot of belts in Daddy’s closet.” He added that Peterson put leaves in his mouth when he was being hit with the switch while his pants were down. The child told his mother that Peterson “likes belts and switches” and “has a whooping room.”
Shortly after Peterson was released, the Vikings issued a statement saying that Peterson, whose face is on the tickets for Sunday’s game, would be dropped from the roster for the Sunday matchup against the New England Patriots. The team said it is gathering information.
Peterson’s indictment comes two weeks into the NFL season at a time when there is a lot of controversy swirling around professional football over how the organization handled a domestic abuse case involving Ray Rice. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell recently increased penalties for domestic violence cases in which first time offenders automatically receive a six-game suspension, notes the New York Times. In a memo sent to all 32 teams, Goodell warned there would be severe penalties “if there are aggravating circumstances such as the presence or use of a weapon, choking, repeated striking, or when the act is committed against a pregnant woman or in the presence of a child,” reports the Associated Press.
In a case of incredibly bad timing, Peterson is the star of the NFL Rush Zone cartoon this week.
This post has been updated with new information since it was originally published.