By Gary Ridley, originally published by MLive, The Flint Journal, March 16, 2016
FLINT, MI – Former Michigan State basketball star Mateen Cleaves said little during his first court appearance on charges stemming from an alleged sex assault at a Mundy Township motel.
Cleaves was arraigned Wednesday, March 16, on multiple felony charges, including counts of unlawful imprisonment and criminal sexual conduct.
He stood quietly next to his attorney Frank J. Manley, only speaking when Genesee District Judge M. Cathy Dowd asked him if he understood his rights and the accusations against him.
Dowd, who didn’t allow cameras in the courtroom during the hearing, questioned Manley on if Cleaves should be released on a personal recognizance bond prior to trial, stating most people in her court facing similar charges to Cleaves are sent to the Genesee County Jail and forced to post a cash or surety bond.
“I have serious concerns putting him over (to the jail) because of his stature in the community,” said Dowd. She noted fellow inmates may target the former Michigan State star because of his fame.
Manley argued that Cleaves is a fixture in the Flint community, and that if he wanted to flee from the charges he would have done so after the investigation began in late 2015.
“I don’t think he is a threat to anyone in the community,” Manley said.
Mlive-The Flint Journal previously reported in October that Cleaves was under investigation for the alleged assault.
Manley also argued Cleaves career as a basketball and media personality is currently in a “state of flux” due to the charges, noting that the NCAA Tournament “icon” had been employed by five different media agencies on the eve of the Big Dance.
“The damage to his career has been catastrophic already,” Manley said.
Dowd ultimately ordered Cleaves to surrender his passport and allowed him to be released on $150,000 personal recognizance bond.
The Wayne County Prosecutor’s office announced Tuesday that Cleaves was charged with unlawful imprisonment, assault with intent to commit criminal sexual penetration, second-degree criminal sexual conduct, and two counts of third-degree criminal sexual conduct.
Cleaves, 38, of Mundy Township, was at a charity golf outing Sept. 14, 2015, where he was allegedly introduced to the victim, her boyfriend and several co-workers, according to the prosecutor’s office.
Cleaves and the group allegedly went a local bar after the outing where they had drinks, the prosecutor claims. Around 1 a.m. they all left the bar.
The alleged victim’s boyfriend gave a friend a ride home, prosecutors say. The alleged victim, thinking they would return to the golf club, rode with Cleaves in his car, according to prosecutors.
They allege Cleaves took the victim to a motel located in the 2400 block of West Grand Blanc Road in Mundy Township, held her in a room against her will and sexually assaulted her. The victim was able to allegedly escape from the room and received assistance from a woman in a nearby room.
Mundy Township Detective Mike Neering told Dowd that investigators previously served a search warrant on Cleaves for a DNA sample.
The case was handled by the Wayne County prosecutor’s office after Genesee County Prosecutor David Leyton recused himself from the case over a conflict with a potential witness.
“We look forward to a person actually having a name making these allegations,” Manley said after the arraignment. “So far, Mr. Cleaves’ name has been brought and dragged through the mud. We want to make sure that the person who has actually made these allegations comes forward.”
Prosecutors have identified the alleged victim as a 24-year-old Mt. Morris woman. The Flint Journal-Mlive is not releasing her name because she is the alleged victim of a suspected sex crime.
He faces up to 15 years in prison if convicted.
Cleaves is scheduled to return to court March 29.