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Vikings' Adrian Peterson pleads no contest to misdemeanor

Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson will plead no contest to one count of misdemeanor reckless assault on Tuesday, thus resolving his alleged child abuse case.
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Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson pleaded no contest to one count of misdemeanor reckless assault on Tuesday, resolving his alleged child abuse case.

Per terms of the agreement between Peterson and the prosecution, the plea makes no reference to family violence or violence against a minor. Peterson will pay a $4,000 fine, be placed on probation and perform 80 hours of community service.

Peterson does not have to serve jail time. 

Pro Football Talk initially reported Tuesday morning that Peterson would agree to the deal the same day. It was reported Sunday that Peterson and his representatives were having discussions about a potential plea agreement and that one could be completed as soon as Tuesday.

Peterson was indicted by a grand jury in Texas in September on felony charges of reckless or negligent injury to a child after authorities said he hit his 4-year-old son with a switch. He faced up to two years in prison and a $10,000 fine if convicted of the charges. A tentative trial date of Dec. 1 had been set, but the plea deal ends the legal process before any trial.

In the period following Peterson's indictment, a newspaper report detailed alleged improprieties with the running back's charity and other claims of illicit behavior, and prosecutors attempted to have Peterson arrested again after he admitted to smoking marijuana. Late last month, prosecutors attempted to have Judge Kelly Case recused from the case after alleging he was biased against them, though the request was denied.

While expressing remorse for his actions, Peterson maintained that he was merely disciplining his child and committed no crime. After his indictment, the Vikings deactivated Peterson for their Week 2 game against the New England Patriots before reinstating him the following week.

Pressure from the public, media and team and league sponsors, including Nike and Anheuser-Busch, led to Peterson being placed on the Commissioner's Exempt list until his legal case was resolved, effectively placing him on paid leave.

Only NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has the authority to remove Peterson from the list. It's unknown if Peterson will face further discipline from the Vikings or the NFL now that his case has been resolved. It was reported last month that Peterson could be suspended by the league even if found not guilty of the charges against him.

News of Peterson's alleged child abuse came in the midst of controversy surrounding the NFL and the issue of domestic violence, initiated by the Ray Rice case. Earlier in the week in which Peterson was indicted, video showing Rice striking his then-fiancée was released, leading to Rice's release from the Baltimore Ravens and his indefinite suspension from the NFL.

The incident led to renewed attention on the domestic violence case of Carolina Panthers defensive end Greg Hardy, who was also then placed on the Commissioner's Exempt list, and on the NFL's domestic violence policy in general. 

- Ben Estes