Mateen Cleaves charged in alleged sexual assault

The Detroit News

Mateen Cleaves, a former Michigan State basketball star who was the hero behind the 2000 national championship team, has been charged with an alleged sexual assault of a 24-year-old Mount Morris woman.

Cleaves, 39, of Grand Blanc, has been 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. The charges carry a penalty of up to 15 years in prison.

The charges stem from an incident in September following a charity golf outing.

“The evidence in this case will show that the alleged actions of this defendant were not only criminal, but arose out of a sense of entitlement sometimes found in prominent people,” Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy said in a statement.

According to Worthy’s office, Cleaves and a group went to a bar after the golf outing. At 1 a.m. Sept. 15, the group left the bar. The Prosecutor’s Office said the woman left with Cleaves in his car, thinking they would return to the golf club.

Cleaves allegedly then took the woman to a motel in the 2400 block of West Grand Blanc in Mundy Township and held her there against her will. He then is accused of sexually assaulting her.

The woman was able to escape and received help from another woman in a nearby room, Worthy’s office said.

The Prosecutor’s Office said arrangements were being made for Cleaves to turn himself in for processing and arraignment at 9 a.m. Thursday in 67th District Court in Genesee County.

The case is being handled in Wayne County because Genesee County Prosecutor David Leyton has a conflict of interest. According to his office on Tuesday, Leyton discovered his family has a business relationship with one of the witnesses.

Attorney Frank J. Manley said he expects his client to be cleared.

“We think that it is beyond the pale that somebody would suggest that Mr. Cleaves would use his celebrity to take advantage of anyone, when just the opposite is true after he’s spent thousands of hours and dollars in aiding people in Flint,” Manley said Tuesday.

“He’s devastated,” Manley said. “This is the type of accusation one would make toward a coward, not toward a champion.”

Cleaves starred at Flint Northern before becoming a household name at Michigan State.

In 2000, he led the Spartans to a national title, the second in program history, playing through a leg injury in the second half of the championship win over Florida.

The image of Cleaves and head coach Tom Izzo, embracing and crying after the title victory, is one of the lasting images from that season.

“I don’t know anything, of course, except I’m saddened by it,” Izzo said Tuesday. “I’m disappointed, bummed out, and everything else. Personally, I don’t see him doing anything against somebody’s will, I really don’t. I think I know him well enough for that.”

Cleaves was the No. 14 overall pick by the Pistons in 2000, and had a 10-year pro career, most of which was spent in the NBA’s Development League. He retired in 2009, and in 2010, he joined Fox Sports Detroit as a Pistons analyst. He now hosts a show on SiriusXM and is an analyst for CBS Sports.

In 2013, he was inducted into the Michigan Sports Hall of Fame.