Lawsuit: Officer pressured to portray Cleaves as guilty

Jennifer Chambers
The Detroit News

A Mundy Township police officer is suing the township and its police department alleging they pressured him to portray former Pistons player and Michigan State basketball star Mateen Cleaves as guilty of an alleged sexual assault.

Brian Ogle filed a civil lawsuit in Genesee County Court on May 4 alleging he was disciplined after he reported violations of state law by the township and police department to the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office, which is handling the Cleaves investigation.

Cleaves, 39, of Grand Blanc and the hero behind MSU’s 2000 national championship team, has been charged in the sexual assault of a 24-year-old Mount Morris woman.

Ogle’s attorney, Dean Yeotis, said Tuesday his client was the first officer on the scene of a reported sexual assault Sept. 15 and interviewed the alleged victim.

“He concluded there had not been a crime committed. And the work environment after that was full of tension, and it got to the point that he got suspended for two days,” Yeotis said.

Ogle, who is suing under the Whistleblower Protection Act, said he began an investigation into Cleaves in September 2015.

In the complaint, Ogle, who has been with the department since 1997, said he found himself “at odds with the defendants” because he would not “acquiesce to defendants pressure to portray Mr. Cleaves as guilty of sexual assault.”

Ogle said he emailed the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office on Nov. 17 to report “suspected violations” of state law or regulations by the township and department.

The township informed Ogle on Feb. 4 that he was in violation of the township’s rules and regulations. Then on Feb. 25, he was suspended without pay, the lawsuit says.

Ogle is seeking more than $25,000 in past and future economic damages.

Cleaves 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. The charges carry a penalty of up to 15 years in prison.

The charges stem from an incident in September after a charity golf outing when, according to prosecutors, Cleaves and a group went to a bar. 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 escaped and received help from another woman in a nearby room, Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy’s office said.

His attorney, Frank J. Manley, said Tuesday the accusations in Ogle’s lawsuit should be immediately investigated by the Prosecutor’s Office.

“It’s troubling to me that somehow it appears the lawsuit, if true, that pressure was brought upon Ogle to conform his testimony to a certain narrative,” Manley said.

Manley said Ogle arrived on the scene with another officer and a sergeant who all concluded there was no probable cause a crime was committed.

Maria Miller, spokeswoman for the Prosecutor’s Office, declined comment on the civil lawsuit, citing the pending criminal case.

The rape allegations were denied in a tweet on the Mateen Cleaves Twitter page March 16: “My family and I are devastated by these false charges. I am innocent and the allegations are without merit.”

Cleaves is expected back in court May 17.

JChambers@detroitnews.com

(313) 222-2269

Freelance writer Jacob Carah contributed