Adrian Peterson expected to plead not guilty to child abuse charges

Updated

Adrian Peterson, the embattled Minnesota Vikings running back, is planning to plead not guilty Wednesday to charges of reckless or negligent injury to a child.

The NFL star is currently inactive in the wake of allegations that he abused his 4-year-old son with a tree branch. He is currently banned from all Vikings activities until the legal case is over. However, he is still receiving his full $11.75 million salary.

“We do expect Mr. Peterson to plead not guilty if the judge asks him to enter his plea tomorrow,” Mary Flood, a spokesperson for Peterson’s defense attorney, Rusty Hardin, said in an e-mail to NBC News.

Peterson has never denied striking his child, but he has maintained that his intent was to simply punish, not physically injure his son. The accusations against Peterson came after the indefinite suspension of Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice for domestic abuse, which kicked off weeks of bad press for the NFL. 

This week Peterson has also had to contend with fresh allegations about his charity organization, All Day, Inc. A 2011 incident involving Peterson in an Eden Prarie hotel room, which was charged to his charity’s expense account, resulted in rape allegations and a lengthy investigation, according to a report from the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Although no charges were filed, the incident has resurfaced amid new scrutiny of Peterson’s off-the-field persona.

The Star Tribune reported that a “38-page police report details a night of drinking, arguing and sex that involved the running back, two relatives — including Peterson’s brother, a minor — and four women, in various pairs.” Peterson has maintained his innocence of any wrongdoing, and according to the Star Tribune he both passed a polygraph test and was cleared of drug use in the aftermath of the incident.

Still, the charity’s 2011 financial report has raised some serious questions All Day, Inc. reportedly raised $247,064 that year, and listed only three organizations that received funds from it. 

A fourth outlay, titled “clothing for needy families,” listed “unknown” for the number of recipients, according to the Star Tribune. And Donna Farley, president and founder of Straight From the Heart Ministries in Laurel, Md., which according to All Day received a $70,000 donation from Peterson’s charity in 2009, claims to have never received money from the Pro Bowl running back.

“There have been no outside [contributions] other than people in my own circle,” Farley told the newspaper. “Adrian Peterson — definitely not.” ESPN later reported that Peterson’s All Day Foundation charity had been taken offline.

Peterson responded himself to the controversy Tuesday on social media:

Later on Tuesday, Peterson said via Twitter that he does not own a credit card linked to his foundation. According to Peterson, All Day, Inc. and the All Day Foundation are two separate entities. He also said the Straight From the Heart Ministries is based in California, not Maryland, and did indeed receive donations.

I guess never let the truth get in the way of a good story,” Peterson tweeted. 

“There is no question that prior to 2011, issues existed with the administration of Adrian’s foundation. When this was brought to his attention, Adrian made changes to the organization and brought in new leadership,” Peterson’s attorney Rusty Hardin said in a statement. He said the charity has since donated more than $1.4 million to various causes, including many that benefit children. “Adrian and his family are understandably proud of the foundation and the good work that it has done and continues to do,” Hardin added.

Prior to the child abuse controversy, Peterson had been one of the most popular, productive and celebrated players in history of the league. However, his not guilty plea will likely keep him sidelined for at least the rest of the ongoing NFL season.

Adrian Peterson, NFL and Sports

Adrian Peterson expected to plead not guilty to child abuse charges

Updated