Sports

Accuser sues Mario Edwards Jr., Bears after hotel incident last year


A North Carolina woman is suing Bears defensive end Mario Edwards Jr. — and the franchise itself — after an incident at the team hotel the night before the team played at the Panthers last season.

Joann Blakney filed a civil complaint in Mecklenburg County, N.C., last month, obtained by the Sun-Times, that accuses Edwards of assault, battery and intentional infliction of emotional distress; and the Bears of negligent supervision and defamation. She is also suing Hilton Charlotte City Center security guard Jeffrey Burton of negligence.

The Bears declined comment.

Both Edwards and Blakney were charged with assault shortly after the incident; a summons was issued for Edwards on Oct. 20, 2020, but has not been served.

According to the civil complaint filed Oct. 14, Blakney, who first met Edwards nine years ago, had consensual oral sex with Edwards at the team hotel the night before Oct. 18, 2020, game. She accused him of requesting sex, giving her a bear hug and trying to put his hand down her pants, according to the document. She told him she was pregnant and said she would not have sex with him, per the complaint.

She claimed Edwards hit her when she began recording him with her phone, yanked her off the bed and twisted her nails back toward her wrist. Blakney said in the complaint she punched Edwards in the side to try to free herself.

Upon reaching the hotel lobby, she said in the complaint she asked Burton for help — and that he brought four unnamed Bears officials to speak with her rather than call the police. One unnamed Bears official, she claimed, said loudly that she was a prostitute. She said Edwards and Bears officials failed to follow coronavirus protocols at the time.

The Bears let Edwards play the next day. They’ve since doubled down on their association with him, signing him to a three-year, $11.5 million extension in March. He missed the first two games of this season after violating the NFL’s performance-enhancing drug policy last year.

The NFL did not punish Edwards as a result of its offseason investigation into the hotel incident.



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