By Gina Damron, originally published by The Detroit Free Press on December 5, 2016.
FLINT, MI–A Flint district court judge dismissed sexual assault charges Monday against former Michigan State University basketball star Mateen Cleaves.
Prosecutors accused Cleaves, 39, of Grand Blanc, of sexually assaulting a woman at a Flint area motel in September 2015. He was facing two counts of third-degree criminal sexual conduct and one count each of unlawful imprisonment, assault with intent to commit sexual penetration and second-degree criminal sexual conduct.
Flint 67th District Judge M. Cathy Dowd dismissed all the charges, saying there was not enough probable cause. The Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office said it will appeal the decision.
After the hearing, Cleaves said he was thankful that family and friends are by his side and grateful for his lawyer, Frank Manley.
“My lawyer fought for my life as if I was his own son,” Cleaves said.
The woman who accused Cleaves testified that she met him at a golf outing and the two of them had drinks afterward at a bar, where others from the event also had gone. She said she left with Cleaves and they ended up at a motel, where she was allegedly sexually assaulted. The woman, who the Free Press is not identifying, testified Cleaves twice pulled her back inside after she left the motel room.
On the unlawful imprisonment charge, Dowd said: “There are a number of factors that lead me to believe something else could be going on.”
She said the woman “is the one that invited Mr. Cleaves to come to the bar.” She also noted that the woman voluntarily left with Cleaves and, while they were stopped at a business, did not alert the attendant that she was concerned.
As to the other counts, Dowd said: “This court has not heard enough to bind them over. This case is dismissed.”
Manley said he is grateful and “beyond thrilled.”
“I’ve said from the beginning that I believe that Mr. Cleaves is innocent of the charges,” he said.
Issuing her decision, Dowd mentioned that the woman, while testifying, “danced all around whether that was her in the car at the front of the hotel” after being shown video of Cleaves pulling up to the motel.
Manley questioned the woman about the video, which was not shown to the public and in which he said she can be seen fixing her hair and makeup. Manley asked the woman if, in the video, she saw herself in the vehicle and she testified that can be assumed, but she couldn’t see her face.
During the hearing before Dowd issued her decision, Manley said the case didn’t add up. Assistant Wayne County Prosecutor Lisa Lindsey argued that Manley “argues that this was all because the complainant wanted to be at that motel with the defendant, but if she wanted to be with the defendant so bad, why did she run out of the room desperately trying to get away from the defendant?”
Manley argued that there was no assault.
He said: “This didn’t happen the way it’s put forward.”
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