Adrian Peterson Minnesota Vikings
NFL star charged with injury to child
01:54 - Source: CNN

Story highlights

NEW: A variety of Twitter reaction to charges

Peterson's attorney says the charge stemmed from "using a switch to spank his son"

"Adrian ... deeply regrets the unintentional injury," the lawyer Rusty Hardin adds

Peterson was the NFL MVP in 2012; his 2-year-old son died last year

CNN  — 

A grand jury has indicted star NFL running back Adrian Peterson on a felony charge of injury to a child, spurring the Montgomery County, Texas, Sheriff’s Office to issue a warrant for his arrest.

Authorities didn’t divulge details Friday about what led to the charge. But Peterson’s lawyer said the “charged conduct involves using a switch to spank his son” – explaining that his client did so while doling out discipline “much like “he experienced as a child growing up in east Texas.”

Rusty Hardin said “Adrian never intended to harm his son and deeply regrets the unintentional injury.”

Rather, Hardin characterized the former NFL MVP as “a loving father who used his judgment as a parent to discipline his son.”

Adrian Peterson was the NFL's MVP in 2012.

Peterson will travel to Houston and will then “post bond as soon as it can be arranged,” according to Hardin.

“(Peterson) will continue to insist on his innocence of any intended wrongdoing,” the lawyer said.

Hardin claims that his client has “cooperated fully with authorities and voluntarily testified before the grand jury for several hours.”

“Adrian will address the charges with the same respect and responsiveness he has brought to this inquiry from its beginning,” the lawyer said.

Right after news broke of the indictment, the Vikings released a statement saying they were “in the process of gathering information regarding the legal situation.”

The team came back a short time later to announce that its offensive catalyst has been deactivated for Sunday’s game against the New England Patriots.

According to Texas law, a person can be convicted of an injury to a child offense if they are proven to have caused bodily or mental injury “intentionally, knowingly, recklessly or with criminal negligence” or causing such harm by omission. A child, by this definition, must be 14 years old or younger.

Peterson’s indictment prompted a flurry of reaction on Twitter.

Some defended him and criticized authorities for pressing charges, saying that such forms of discipline are common and acceptable.

“Adrian Peterson was indicted in TX for swatting his son with a switch! Who knew that was illegal, cuz my mama would b in jail!” tweeted comedian D.L. Hughley.

Others came down hard on the Vikings star, including one man who was “sickened.”

“Anyone who defends this is a coward,” one person tweeted.

2-year-old son allegedly killed by another man

The alleged criminal offense took place in Montgomery County, which is north of Houston.

The 29-year-old Peterson grew up in Palestine, Texas, which is 150 miles north of Houston and 100 miles southeast of Dallas.

A running back for the Vikings since 2007, he rushed for 75 yards in his team’s season-opening 34-6 rout of the St. Louis Rams.

In 2012, he was named the league’s most valuable player when he ran for 2,097 yards, just nine yards short of the single-season mark, the NFL said.

For all his exploits on the field, Peterson has dealt with heartache and headaches.

That includes the death of his brother in 2007, a day before he participated in the NFL’s skill testing event for potential draft picks.

And last year, Peterson’s 2-year-old son died after allegedly being abused by another man.

Authorities in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, found that child unresponsive, and later determined he’d suffered injuries to his head consistent with abuse.

Joseph Robert Patterson, the boyfriend of the boy’s mother, was arrested and eventually charged with murder. Patterson has denied the charge and said the boy choked on strawberry fruit snacks, the Argus Leader of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, reported.

News of Peterson’s indictment casts another shadow over the NFL, which is reeling from the fallout over then-Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Ric allegedly punching his then-fiancee Janay Palmer in a casino elevator.

A New Jersey grand jury indicted Rice for third-degree aggravated assault; he pleaded not guilty and entered a pretrial intervention program for first-time offenders that could clear him if he successfully completes the requirements.

CNN’s Michael Martinez and Jill Martin contributed to this report.