NFL: Peterson child injury trial gets December 1 date

Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson, benched last month after being charged with child injury, appeared in court Wednesday and was given a tentative trial date of December 1.

The 29-year-old National Football League star became one of several high-profile players faced with domestic violence charges after spanking his son with tree twigs so harshly that scars remained days later.

The former NFL Most Valuable Player faces two years in jail and a $10,000 fine on the charge of reckless or negligent injury to a child.

The Vikings benched Peterson for their second game of the season against New England, but reinstated him the following Monday only to face a backlash from fans and sponsors and even Minnesota politicians before placing him on a special exempt list with the permission of NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.

Goodell has not escaped the flak and has been criticised for how the league has handled those charged with domestic abuse in recent months.

Peterson remains on the Vikings payroll despite not playing while he fights the charges.

Peterson did not enter a plea on Wednesday because prosecutors asked that judge Kelly Case recuse herself from the case after allegedly making comments about the attorneys involved.

A hearing on whether or not a new judge will be assigned to the case is set for November 4.

Peterson's case was tentatively set for a December 1 start if Case remains sitting in the matter.

Should a judicial change be made, it could delay the start of the trial and mean even less chance for Peterson to return to the Vikings before the season ends in late December.

Peterson attorney Rusty Hardin, who has indicated his client plans to plead innocent, says the NFL star wants to speak out regarding the charges but has held back on lawyers' advice.

"This is a really good man who I am really proud to represent," Hardin said. "This is a case of parenting decisions and whether something unfortunate happened when he was disciplining his child.

"He's a good guy. he's the same guy he was before all this stuff became public."

Photos showed injuries to Peterson's four-year-old son that allegedly were inflicted when the NFL star repeatedly swatted the boy with a branch. Peterson is not allowed any contact with his son while the matter is in the courts.

"Let's don't rush to judgment," Hardin said. "There's always another side."

Hardin, who did not take questions, notably represented baseball star Roger Clemens in a 2012 perjury trial on charges the retired pitcher lied to Congress when he denied taking performance-enhancing drugs.