Singer Mario arrested for assault on mother

Troubled relationship with mother had sparked documentary, charity work

  • Mario
Mario (Photo courtesy of Baltimore…)
October 01, 2010|By Justin Fenton, The Baltimore Sun

R&B singer Mario, the Baltimore-born performer whose struggle with his heroin-addicted mother formed the basis of an MTV documentary, was arrested early Friday after she told police that he struck her and destroyed their Fells Point apartment.

The 24-year-old, whose full name is Mario Dewar Barrett, was charged with one count of second-degree assault and released after posting $50,000 bond.

An attorney representing the singer called the arrest "an unfortunate incident between a loving son and a mother who continues to struggle with a devastating addiction."

Police were called to the 900 block of Fell St. about 12:50 a.m. where they met 45-year-old Shawntia Hardaway in the lobby. She was crying and told the officers that her son was destroying property in the apartment they share and had pushed her, causing "minor pain," according to a police report.

When police went up to the apartment, they found a broken china cabinet and glass strewn across the floor, records show. A mirror was broken, and there was a hole in a closet door.

Hardaway told the officers that it was the second time her son had put his hands on her in recent days. On Sept. 27, she said, they got into an argument during which he pushed her "eight feet into a living room wall, where Ms. Hardaway hit her head on the wall," police wrote in charging documents.

"When this officer asked the victim if she fears for her life in reference to her son's actions, the victim replied 'yes,' " the officer wrote.

The report did not say what sparked the alleged confrontations.

"Anyone who has waged the battle to save loved ones from the forces of drugs knows the irrational behavior that almost always accompanies their actions," said attorney William "Hassan" Murphy III. "Mario remains committed to supporting his mother."

Murphy declined to answer questions about the incident.

Mario, who has appeared on "Dancing with the Stars" and in the films "Freedom Writers" and "Step Up," was raised by his grandmother in Gwynn Oak because of his mother's drug problems. But in recent years, she has become a greater presence in his life — their relationship was chronicled in an MTV special, "I Won't Love You To Death: The Story of Mario and His Mom."

In 2007, Mario started a Baltimore-based nonprofit called Mario's Do Right Foundation that mentors children of drug-addicted parents, and Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, then the City Council president, presented him with the key to the city. According to its Facebook page, the foundation held a fundraiser this summer at Silo Point and is in the process of starting a program in the city school system.

"This fall in Baltimore City I will be working with some public schools to assist in providing resources and counseling for students who have parents that are addicted to drugs," reads a post on the Facebook page from Sept. 16. "I will also be helping the students understand that it's not their fault that their parent may have a problem and I will be telling them that they have my support."

Edie House-Foster, a spokeswoman for the city school system, said there was not any formal relationship in place with the Do Right Foundation. Kevin Shird, the foundation's executive director, said Mario's work with the schools was informal. On Wednesday, Shird said, the singer gave students 100 backpacks full of school supplies.

"He's out here working, trying to do the right thing," Shird said before referring questions to Mario's attorney.

The singer's initial appearance in court on the assault charge is scheduled Nov. 9.

It's the first of two scheduled court dates for Mario. Three women filed a lawsuit in Baltimore District Court against him and his mother in August, alleging that Hardaway struck their vehicle in a parking lot in January, causing injuries. They are seeking $20,000 each at a court date scheduled Nov. 16.

justin.fenton@baltsun.com



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