Monday, December 6, 2021

The North Carolina Women are suing the Chicago Bears and defensive lineman Mario Edwards Jr. over a dispute during a team trip last year

A woman involved in an altercation with Chicago Bears defensive lineman Mario Edwards Jr. during a team trip to Charlotte, NC, has filed a civil complaint against Edwards and the Bears.

In the Mecklenburg County complaint filed on October 14, Joan Blackney charged Edwards with assault, battery and intentional infliction of emotional distress, and negligent supervision and defamation. Jeffrey Burton, identified in the complaint as a Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officer, has also been named in the trial and charged with negligence.

A criminal summons was issued for Edwards in October 2020 for misdemeanor charges against a woman, but that summons has not been served, according to a spokeswoman for the Superior Court’s Mecklenburg County Clerk. According to Edwards’ agent Peter Schaefer, Edwards has not returned to North Carolina since traveling to the Bears for a game against the Carolina Panthers, and there is no court date.

A spokesman for the Mecklenburg County District Attorney’s Office said Blakeney also faced a simple assault charge from the incident. A court date has been set for May, according to Blakney’s attorney, Arcangela Mazzariello.

Mazzarillo told the Tribune that Blakeney sued because she wanted to clarify that “this (event) really happened.”

Bears coach Matt Nagy said in December that the team was aware of the incident that night and took the situation “very seriously”. He said the Bears were “in lockstep with the NFL” as the league reviewed it as part of its personal conduct policy.

An NFL spokesperson said in an email earlier this month that the league had completed an investigation that included “interviews with relevant individuals and personnel and a review of documents relating to law enforcement.” The league informed Bears & Edwards in July that there was “insufficient evidence to support a finding that it violated the Personal Conduct Policy.”

The Bears re-signed Edwards to a three-year contract worth more than $11 million in March.

Mazzarillo told the Tribune that Blakney participated in the one-hour interview as part of the NFL investigation. Mazzarillo said he had yet to get access to the full investigation.

Schaefer told the Tribune that he believed the NFL’s finding was important because the league is “really sensitive to this topic.”

A Bears official said the organization would not comment on the lawsuit because it is an active civil matter. Schaefer said she and Edwards have no interest in settling down.

“The Bears did everything by the book,” Schaefer told the Tribune. “Mario did everything from the book.”

In the complaint, Blakney said she had a romantic relationship with Edwards in 2012, which became verbally and physically abusive in 2015. The night before Byers played the Panthers in October 2020, Blakney, according to Suits, booked a room at the Hilton Charlotte Uptown where the Byers were staying, to meet with Edwards, who attended outdoor parties during the team tour. The NFL was under COVID-19 rules for not engaging with.

According to the suit, Blakeney, who said she was pregnant, said she had consensual oral sex with Edwards, but turned violent when he declined her request to have intercourse. In the complaint, she accused Edwards of knocking her off the floor, trying to put her hands under her pants, hitting her in the face after recording, dragging her off the bed, and hitting her stomach against her body, killing her. . Nails to the back, dragged her to the door of a hotel room and, after following her and filming her as she left, hit her on the arm as she climbed the elevator. She said in the complaint that she once hit Edwards in the side to try to free herself.

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In December, Schaefer told the Tribune that Edwards had consensual sexual activity with Blakeney in her hotel room, but never violently touched her. Schaefer said that Blackney became furious after a disagreement about the extent of their relationship, and Edwards left and went to hotel security to avoid a fight.

The police report listed both Edwards and a 28-year-old woman as victims and said officers were responding to reports of “a woman hitting a man with her hand and scratching his forehead”.

“Mario and I hate domestic violence,” Schaefer said in December. “There is no place for any violence in our society, certainly domestic violence. We would never forgive this in any situation, and to Mario’s credit, he did what we teach him to do — de-escalate and escape.

According to the police report, Blakeney eventually went to the hospital for his injuries, which were listed as “bruises/scratches.” She said injuries in the suit included bruises and trauma to her vision and abdomen. Police arrived and filed a report, but Blackney said in the complaint that it was a drawn-out process to contact him because of his conversations with Bears security officers and Burton, who told him he was off duty as Hilton security. was working.

In the complaint, Blakeney said that despite her repeated attempts to get someone to call the police, Burton previously retrieved four Bear employees, who were not identified by name in the suit. Blakney alleged in the complaint that Bears employees who asked if she wanted or wanted money, brought Edwards to her despite her wishes, and publicly falsely stated that she was a prostitute. He said in the complaint that he finally called the police himself.

This month, Schaefer disputed Blackney’s description of events, saying that Bear called the police, calmed the situation and did not call her a prostitute.

“I was on every call that night and after,” Schaefer told the Tribune. “He did everything by the book. He leaned backwards to make sure it was done by the book.”

Edwards played in a Bears game the next day, Sunday. Blakeney said in the complaint that he filed the charges on Monday after Edwards accused him of assault.

The complaint also states that Schaefer sent Mazzarillo an email, reminding him that Edwards had “a plethora of texts, DMs, pictures and videos” that were “the most interesting and revealing”. Schaefer confirmed to the Tribune that he had messages from Blakeney to Edwards.

Schaefer told the Tribune that he believed Blackney was making a “money game” and questioned why he had changed lawyers several times.

Mazzarillo said at least one lawyer who previously represented Blackney and with whom he consulted had a conflict of interest. Both Mazzarillo and Schaefer said that one of Blakeney’s previous attorneys was a lawyer whose website notes that he has “a client base with 17 NFL Pro Bowl invitations and two top-ten draft picks in the NFL and NBA”, Including Michael Vick.

Blakney declined an interview request via Mazzariello. Last month, Blakeney did an interview on “Crime Stories with Nancy Grace” in which he described many of the details from the complaint.

Edwards, who is in his seventh NFL season, declined an interview request via Schaefer. He has played seven games for the Bears this season since serving an unrelated two-game suspension for violating the league’s policy on performance-enhancing substances.

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