Cleaves hearing on hold until prosecutor issue resolved

Oralandar Brand-Williams
The Detroit News

Hearings in the rape case against former MSU basketball star Mateen Cleaves have been put on hold until the issue of the Wayne County Prosecutor’s involvement is resolved.

Cleaves’ attorney, Frank Manley, will ask the Seventh Circuit Court in Genesee County to overturn a Flint judge’s ruling to allow Kym Worthy’s office to continue to prosecute the case. Manley has pointed out the victim previously worked for the Wayne County prosecutor and therefore there could be an appearance of impropriety or a conflict of interest.

Flint Judge Catherine Dowd denied his earlier motion to remove Worthy’s office.

Thursday, Dowd granted a Manley motion to be allowed to question the woman making the allegation against Cleaves about her mental health.

Cleaves’ preliminary exam was to begin Monday, but it was adjourned to Thursday. Instead of the preliminary exam, the two motions were heard by Down instead.

Genesee Prosecutor David Leyton recused himself before the beginning of the proceedings, citing a conflict of interest.

“We will not be part of Kym Worthy’s publicity machine,” Manley said after a hearing in June for Cleaves. “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.”

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

The woman is expected to take the stand during Cleaves’ preliminary examination once it is rescheduled. No new dates have been scheduled for Cleaves pending the appeal.

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 in May. “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. Cleaves, a Flint native, played parts of six seasons in the NBA, including his rookie season with the Detroit Pistons that selected him in the first round of the NBA draft.


(313) 222-2027