Adrian Peterson enters plea deal. Will NFL seek further punishment?

Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson pleaded no contest Tuesday to misdemeanor reckless assault, after being indicted in September for hitting his four-year-old with a wooden "switch."

Pat Sullivan/AP
Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson (left, shown with his wife Ashley Brown Peterson) pleaded no contest Nov. 4, in Conroe, Texas, to misdemeanor reckless assault, stemming from an incident in which he hit his four-year-old son with a switch.

Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson pleaded no contest Tuesday to a charge of misdemeanor reckless assault, a move that will prevent him from serving jail time, multiple news media outlets have reported.  

The National Football League star had less than four weeks until the beginning of his trial on felony child-abuse charges for harming his four-year-old son. The plea deal includes a fine of $4,000 and 80 hours of community service, ESPN reported, noting that District Judge Kelly Case deferred a finding of guilt for two years. Had Judge Case refused the plea agreement, Peterson could have faced up to two years in prison and a fine of $10,000, if he were found guilty. 

"I truly regret this incident. I stand here and take full responsibility for my actions. I love my son more than any one of you could even imagine," Peterson said after the plea deal was announced, outside the courthouse. "I'm just glad this is over. I can put this behind me, and me and my family can move forward." 

Peterson, 29, was indicted in September for hitting his son with a wooden "switch," injuring the four-year-old.

Voted the NFL's Most Valuable Player in 2012, Peterson has already missed eight games with pay this season since he was placed on the commissioner's exempt list on Sept. 17. It is unclear whether the NFL will impose a further suspension on Peterson, and it is still unknown when he will return to play. 

"We would review the matter, including the court record, and the commissioner would make a determination," NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said, according to USA Today. "We cannot provide a timetable." 

Peterson's indictment came amid a string of domestic-abuse charges against NFL players, including former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice, who is serving an indefinite suspension from the NFL after a video surfaced of him assaulting his then-fianceé earlier this year. These cases triggered a national conversation about domestic violence and the way the professional sports league handles them. 

In a letter sent last month to Sen. Barbara Boxer (D) of California, who has been sharply critical of the NFL, Commissioner Roger Goodell reiterated the ways the league has said it is handling cases of domestic violence. He wrote that the league is consulting with outside experts, "condemning" and "punishing" "unacceptable" behavior, establishing a committee to "regularly review and update" the league's rules regulating player conduct, expanding NFL outreach efforts, and giving money to organizations that work to aid and prevent cases of domestic violence and sexual abuse. 

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