NFL: Prosecutor decries idea to waive Peterson PSA
By Brian MurphySt. Paul Pioneer Press MANKATO -- The Texas prosecutor who plea bargained Adrian Peterson's felony child abuse charge down to a misdemeanor criticized the presiding judge's decision Wednesday to reduce the Vikings running back's tw...
By Brian Murphy
St. Paul Pioneer Press
MANKATO - The Texas prosecutor who plea bargained Adrian Peterson’s felony child abuse charge down to a misdemeanor criticized the presiding judge’s decision Wednesday to reduce the Vikings running back’s two-year probation sentence to nine months.
Montgomery County District Attorney Brett Ligon said Thursday Judge Kelly Case waived the requirement that Peterson complete a public service announcement about child abuse without consulting the prosecutor’s office.
“I didn’t want to,” Peterson said after Thursday’s practice. “All my obligations were worked out. I’m off (probation).”
Ligon, who has been feuding publicly with Case for several years, accused the judge of being “star struck” by the 2012 NFL most valuable player.
“The Court’s decision to early terminate Mr. Peterson’s probation without requiring he strictly comply with the agreed upon terms gives the appearance that a star struck judge waived some of the probation requirements because he was enamored with an elite athlete,” Ligon said in a statement.
“We were not notified that the Public Service Announcement requirement had been waived nor were we given any time to respond to the motion for early termination. This is unfortunate because we had an opportunity to move the dialogue on child abuse in a positive direction and now we are all left with the feeling that this case and those conversations are disappointingly cut short.”
Ligon’s authority, however, is limited because judges have sole discretion to manage sentencing terms in Texas.
“We do not believe we have an appellate remedy,” said Ligon’s spokesman, Phil Grant.
Case granted Peterson’s July 30 motion to terminate his probation nine months after he pleaded no contest to resolve a case involving a May 2014 incident in which he hit his then 4-year-old son with a wooden switch.
Peterson was required to report monthly to Montgomery County probation officials and submit to drug testing as part of 17 conditions he must fulfill to have his conviction expunged from his record.
“My main thing was making sure my obligations got completed,” said Peterson, who declined to elaborate on his probation terms. “The early termination, that’s what I was aiming for. It worked out.”
Peterson was fined $4,000 and ordered to perform 80 hours of community service, 40 of which Peterson was to use preparing and performing a public service announcement about child discipline.
“The State moved to recuse Kelly Case from the Peterson matter prior to the plea, citing a long history of hostility between Judge Case and the District Attorney’s office,” Ligon said in his statement.
“The motion was overruled by a visiting judge from Fort Worth, but Judge Case has continued to make decisions the State contends demonstrate a clear bias against District Attorney Brett Ligon and county wide efforts to proactively combat child abuse.”
Following an indictment last September on a felony charge of child abuse, Peterson missed the final 15 games of 2014, the last six because of an NFL suspension. Peterson, who has expressed remorse for the incident, rejoined the Vikings in June and last month restructured his contract to add some guaranteed money to the three years remaining on it.
Peterson is concluding his second week of Minnesota’s training camp in Mankato. The Vikings open the preseason Sunday against Pittsburgh in the Hall of Fame Game in Canton, Ohio, but Peterson is not expected to play until the Sept. 14 regular-season opener at San Francisco.
The Pioneer Press is a media partner of Forum News Service.