Amid a circus atmosphere at a Texas courthouse Thursday morning, a judge ruled that Adrian Peterson’s child abuse trial will start on or before the first week of December.
Judge Kelly Case made the ruling in a packed courtroom after hearing from the prosecution and from a team of Peterson’s lawyers. The trial is tentatively set to begin December 1, with the option of moving the case up to November.
The ruling came during Peterson’s first hearing since a September 12 grand jury indictment levied a felony child abuse charge against the All Pro running back. Peterson, who is expected to plead not guilty to the charges, did not enter a plea on Wednesday.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Peterson’s Attorney Asked the Judge for the Earliest Trial Date Possible
Rusty Hardin, who’s heading the team of lawyers representing Peterson, asked Case to set the earliest trial date possible. Hardin pointed out that Peterson is unable to play while the legal process plays out and said he’s being “”killed publicly” without the ability to defend himself.
Hardin pressed Case for a trial beginning the week of November 18, but Case said that might not be possible given the backlog of cases the court has to hear.
As Yahoo!’s Charles Robinson tweeted, the judge noted that since some cases end up falling off the docket, a November trial isn’t out of the question.
2. Prosecutors Asked the Judge to Recuse Himself for Calling the Lawyers on Both Sides ‘Media Whores’
When Peterson’s lawyers and prosecutors were addressing the judge Wednesday, the prosecution requested that Case recuse himself from the case for calling the lawyers on both sides “media whores.”
Hardin, whose high-profile clients in the past have included Roger Clemens during the Hall of Fame pitcher’s perjury trial, told Case he didn’t take offense at the comments and that he’s been “called worse.”
But prosecutors filed a motion asking for a new judge, and a different judge will decide after a November 4 hearing whether Case will remain or whether a new judge will be appointed.
3. Hardin Channeled Bill Belichik & Said Peterson Is ‘On to Trial’
Speaking to a horde of reporters outside the courthouse, Hardin channeled New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick and said he and Peterson are “on to trial” — a reference to the notoriously tight-lipped coach’s repeated claims that the Pats were “on to Cincinnati” after a blowout loss Week 4 to the Kansas City Chiefs.
Hardin said Peterson is a great man who he’s proud to represent, and that he’s the same man he was before the allegations surfaced.
He told reporters he knew they would continue to dig things up, but encouraged them to dig up stories favorable of Peterson. Asked what types of stories those were, he went into Belichik mode.
4. Peterson Lashed Out Wednesday After a Report of an Orgy & Rape Allegations
Despite Hardin’s claims that Peterson has shied away from answering criticism, Peterson lashed out late Wednesday night at a bombshell report published Monday by the Minneapolis Star Tribune.
The paper published a bombshell report Monday detailing Peterson’s off-the-field troubles and the shady finances associated with his charitable foundation.
Included in the report is the revelation of a 2011 orgy at a Minnesota hotel that led to a lengthy police investigation of allegations of sexual misconduct against Peterson.
From the Star Tribune:
The 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. One of those present, Chris Brown, a Peterson relative who lives with him in Eden Prairie, told police that he paid for the room using a company credit card for Peterson’s All Day, Inc.
As the night wore on, the report says, one woman who said she knew Peterson previously became upset when she saw him having sex with another woman. She started an argument that lasted at least an hour. According to the report, when she told him that she was “emotionally attached to him,” Peterson reminded her that he was engaged to another woman and had a baby.
The next day one of the women filed a police complaint that was investigated for months. Peterson insisted on his innocence and, at one point, arrived to provide evidence at police headquarters through a back door, his face shrouded by the hood of his sweatshirt.
Peterson lashed out against the report in a series of tweets featuring screengrabs of what appeared to be text messages listing talking points.
Peterson did not deny one of the biggest revelations in the Star Tribune report: That one of the women Peterson is alleged to have had sex with accused him of sexual assault, prompting a police investigation. No charges were filed against Peterson.
5. Hardin Is Asking for an Investigation Into Leaked Photos of Peterson’s Son
Hardin is demanding an investigation into who leaked photos showing the injuries Peterson’s son suffered after being beaten by Peterson.
The photos came out shortly after a grand jury charged in a September 12 indictment that Peterson abused the boy — one of at least six children Peterson has fathered — with a “switch,” another term for a tree branch.
The grand jury was convened after his mother noticed bruises and bleeding on his scrotum, buttocks and thighs and brought him to a doctor, who asked the boy how he had been injured.
Peterson cooperated with the investigation and appeared multiple times before the grand jury to answer questions. He has admitted to “disciplining” his son, but defending the tactics by saying he was merely issuing the same kind of discipline his parents used on him when he was growing up in East Texas.
This picture of Adrian Peterson's son from the Houston PD is not consistent with switch-whoopings I'm familiar with. pic.twitter.com/ZuIUt6vEeR
— Darin Gantt (@daringantt) September 12, 2014
Hardin said Wednesday that Peterson has agreed to not have contact with his son before the trial begins.