(Reuters) - The Minnesota Vikings should sideline running back Adrian Peterson until his child abuse case works its way through the courts, Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton said on Tuesday, criticizing the team’s decision to reactivate the NFL player.
Peterson is accused of punishing his 4-year-old son in Texas last May by beating him with a tree branch, known as a switch. The incident is one of a series of domestic abuse cases that has rocked the National Football League.
The Vikings kept Peterson, the league’s most valuable player in 2012, out of last Sunday’s game, a 30-7 loss to the New England Patriots, but said on Monday he could suit up this week against the New Orleans Saints.
“Whipping a child to the extent of visible wounds, as has been alleged, should not be tolerated in our state,” Dayton said in a statement. “Therefore, I believe the team should suspend Mr. Peterson, until the accusations of child abuse have been resolved by the criminal justice system.”
If convicted, Peterson could be sentenced to up to two years in prison and fined $10,000.
Dayton said he remained a fan of the team.
“This has been the team’s only home; and our citizens, including myself, have been its most dedicated fans,” the Democratic governor said.
A Houston television station reported that Peterson faced a similar accusation regarding a second son, but the player’s attorney, Rusty Hardin, said the allegation was “unsubstantiated.”
Peterson, 29, said he punished his son the same way he was as a youth, and, while remorseful, insisted he was not a child abuser.
Following the Vikings’ decision to reinstate Peterson and let the courts decide his fate, the Radisson hotel chain said it was suspending a sponsorship deal with the team as it monitors the case.
The NFL’s Carolina Panthers are reviewing the status of defensive end Greg Hardy, convicted on charges related to choking and threatening to kill his then-girlfriend. The team deactivated Hardy for last Sunday’s game.
Former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice, suspended indefinitely by the NFL for knocking out his then-fiancee, was expected to appeal the suspension later on Tuesday.
Reporting by Steve Ginsburg in Washington; Editing by Peter Cooney