(Reuters) - Minnesota Vikings star running back Adrian Peterson’s appeal of his suspension from the NFL for beating his son has been denied by the arbitrator named by Commissioner Roger Goodell to handle the matter, the league said on Friday.
Arbitrator Harold Henderson said in his ruling that Peterson, the 2012 NFL Most Valuable Player, “has not demonstrated that the process and procedures surrounding his discipline were not fair and consistent.”
Henderson added that Peterson “was afforded all the protections and rights to which he is entitled, and I find no basis to vacate or reduce the discipline.”
Henderson is a former NFL executive vice president of labor relations who has heard 87 appeals since 2008 involving personal conduct and drug issues.
Peterson, who played in only one game this season before being taken placed on the commissioner’s “exempt list,” is expected to appeal the decision in federal court.
Peterson, 29, pleaded no contest on Nov. 4 to misdemeanor reckless assault of his 4-year-old son, allowing him to avoid a felony child-abuse conviction. After Peterson’s plea, Goodell suspended Peterson until at least April 15 for violating the NFL personal conduct policy. He was arrested in September on a felony child abuse charge for disciplining his son by repeatedly striking him with a thin tree branch called a switch.
The players’ union condemned the arbitrator’s decision.
“The NFLPA expected this outcome, given the hearing officer’s relationship and financial ties to the NFL,” the NFL Players Association said in a statement.
“The decision itself ignores the facts, the evidence and the collective bargaining agreement. This decision also represents the NFL’s repeated failure to adhere to due process and confirms its inconsistent treatment of players.”
Peterson is one of the NFL’s highest profile players.
His son had cuts and bruises over much of his body after the beating.
“The facts in this appeal are uncontested,” Henderson wrote. “The player entered a plea which effectively admitted guilt to a criminal charge of child abuse, after inflicting serious injuries to his four-year-old son in the course of administering discipline.”
The arbitrator added, “No direct evidence of the beating was entered in the record here, but numerous court documents, investigative reports, photographs and news reports, all accepted into evidence without objection, make it clear that Mr. Peterson’s conduct was egregious and aggravated as those terms are used in the Policy, and merits substantial discipline.”
Reporting by Steve Ginsburg; Editing by Will Dunham