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Cleaves’ attorney wants prosecutor’s office off case

Oralandar Brand-Williams
The Detroit News

Flint — The attorney for former MSU basketball star Mateen Cleaves on Tuesday asked a Flint judge to remove the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office from the rape case because the alleged victim worked for the county on a sexual/child abuse task force.

“We’ve received information that the (victim) in this case was involved in a child or sexual abuse task force in Wayne County,” Frank Manley, Cleaves’ attorney, said after the court hearing before 67th District Judge Cathy Dowd. “That on its face leaves one to wonder if they’re the proper entity to go forward in this case.”

Manley also asked that the charges be dropped.

“I think you’ll see a (pattern of behavior by the victim),” he said.

Assistant Wayne County Prosecutor Lisa Lindsey said she was “blindsided” by Manley’s accusations and asked for two weeks to review his motions.

Cleaves looked on from the defense table as his wife and family members, who packed the courtroom, watched the proceedings.

Two motions also ask for a competency evaluation of the alleged victim as well as her psychological record.

Maria Miller, a spokeswoman for the Wayne County Prosecutor’s office, said: “At the appropriate time, the prosecution will respond in court to the motions filed by the defense.”

A hearing on those motions is scheduled for July 29. The date for the preliminary examination was not yet been decided upon but it might happen the same day depending on the outcome of those motions.

The preliminary exam for Cleaves was adjourned Tuesday to give the prosecutor’s office time to respond to the motions filed by Cleaves’ attorney late Monday.

The case is being handled by the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office after Genesee County Prosecutor David Leyton recused himself, citing a conflict of interest.

Manley said that because the victim worked for the Wayne County Prosecutor there could be an appearance of impropriety or a conflict of interest.

“We will not be part of Kym Worthy’s publicity machine,” Manley said. “The law is it may not be a direct conflict but it can be an appearance of impropriety. Fundamental fairness is what we’re looking for. Trust in the government. Trust in the system. People need to trust that this is a fair proceeding.”

Manley said the alleged victim was a counselor for the task force.

“Why wasn’t this brought to our attention?” Manley asked Tuesday. “Why am I telling them that their victim may have worked right in their office?”

Cleaves was charged in March with the alleged sexual assault of the woman after a charity golf outing Sept. 15. The incident allegedly took place at the Knights Inn motel in Mundy Township.

The woman who accused Cleaves of raping her in a suburban Flint motel had been expected to take the stand Tuesday. A videotape of the alleged incident may also be shown in court.

The 24-year-old Mount Morris woman’s face is expected to be shrouded during her testimony before Dowd, who instructed the media not to release the woman’s name or show her face.

It is The Detroit News policy not to name rape victims.

Manley said his client is disputing published reports suggesting the former athlete used date rape drugs during the alleged sexual assault.

“If that was true, don’t you think he would have been charged? It’s a blatant attempt to connect him to Bill Cosby or anyone else,” Manley told The News last month. “It’s blatantly and totally wrong.”

During Cleaves’ probable cause conference May 17, a Wayne County assistant prosecutor said her office has received information about another possible victim.

Cleaves played four seasons at Michigan State (1996-2000), leading the Spartans to the 2000 national championship. The Flint native played parts of six seasons in the NBA, including his rookie season with the Detroit Pistons, who selected him in the first round of the NBA draft.

bwilliams@detroitnews.com

(313) 222-2027