Cleaves attorney: Accuser has ‘inconsistent statements’

Oralandar Brand-Williams
The Detroit News

Flint — A Mundy Township police sergeant said Friday a woman at the center of rape allegations against former Michigan State University star Mateen Cleaves told him she had not been raped by the former basketball player.

Sgt. Todd Johnson was one of four officers who responded to a call of “trouble” at the Knights Inn in the early morning of Sept. 15, 2015, in which Cleaves is accused of sexually assaulting a suburban Flint woman. Johnson says when he asked the woman about being physically hurt or assaulted she told him “no,” that she had not been.

Johnson said the woman, when asked, said she had not been sexually assaulted, so there was no reason for police to arrest Cleaves or investigate the incident any further.

“(The woman) said she wasn’t a victim of any crime,” he said. Johnson said the woman told him she and Cleaves “messed around” when they got to the motel room and that she took her clothes off.

Also Friday, Cleaves’ defense attorney, Frank Manley, asked a Flint judge to have rape and other related charges against his client dismissed, saying the prosecution hasn’t proven its case. Manley told 67th District Court Judge Cathy Dowd the prosecutor’s case against his 39-year-old client is “baseless.”

Dowd said she could not dismiss the charges because she needs to hear the entire case before she makes up her mind.

The prosecution rested its case Friday. Manley hasn’t said yet which witnesses he plans to call or re-call for testimony. He left open Friday that he will put the alleged rape victim back on the stand.

The Mount Morris woman in her mid-20s maintained Friday she told Cleaves she “wanted to go home” when she first go into the motel room with him. She did admit she kissed him even after saying that.

She said Cleaves pulled her panties aside and she was wearing only her bra the first time she fled from the motel room. She said a sexual encounter, which included penetration, occurred between her and Cleaves when she says she was taken back into the room by Cleaves before fleeing a second time. She said she had on panties and a bra but didn’t remember how her panties got back on.

The third time she escaped the room, she said she was clothed, and was taken into another room by a female guest in another room who called police.

The woman admitted under cross-examination she could have locked the door to Cleaves’ vehicle while in it, called 911 or driven away if she thought she was in danger.

Manley told the judge the “credibility in this case is elusive” and that the woman has “selective” memory.

The woman testified all day Thursday and was the only witness to take the stand.

Cleaves, who has pleaded not guilty, is 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 is accused of sexually assaulting the woman after meeting her and others at a bar after a charity golf outing.

The preliminary hearing, which continues Monday morning, will determine whether Cleaves should go to trial on the rape charges. Friday was the fourth day of testimony.

The woman’s boyfriend and a police officer who filed a lawsuit against the Mundy Township police department are expected to testify Monday.

Thursday was the first time he faced his accuser in court. He showed no emotion during her testimony and he and his wife looked on. Dowd barred the media from revealing the woman’s identity.

The woman said Thursday that after the gathering at the bar broke up she expected Cleaves to take her back to Warwick Hills Golf and Country Club, where the charity event was held, but later acknowledged under cross-examination she wasn’t sure about that.

After stopping at a gas station, she said she got back into Cleaves’ vehicle, closed her eyes and doesn’t know if she fell asleep. But she says she woke up in a room at the Knights Inn with Cleaves and he began kissing her.

The woman said she told Cleaves he was a married man and that she had a boyfriend, but things still progressed.

“He started kissing me. I kissed him back and I remember being on the bed,” the woman said. She said she didn’t want to be “rude” to Cleaves, a celebrity donor to her employer, because she didn’t want her rejection of his advances to affect her job.

Manley said Thursday the woman has made “inconsistent statements” about her encounter with Cleaves. He calls it a case of “he said-she said” and that there was no rape.

“It’s your word against Mr. Cleaves’ word,” Manley said.

Cleaves was the Spartans’ star point guard from 1996-2000, helping Michigan State win the NCAA title in 2000. He was selected in the first round of the 2000 NBA draft (No. 14 overall) by the Detroit Pistons and played in the NBA for parts of six seasons with four different teams.

bwilliams@detroitnews.com

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