Mateen Cleaves, 39, of Grand Blanc, MI was formerly charged on Tuesday, March 15, with the sexual assault of a 24-year-old woman he met last year at a charity golf outing. Cleaves is a former Michigan State basketball star who became famous in 2000 when he led the Spartans to the NCAA championship. He played for several NBA teams, the Detroit Pistons, and currently works for CBS Sports Network as a basketball analyst.
A Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office spokeswoman said on Tuesday that Cleaves allegedly took the woman to a Mundy Township motel in September of last year where he held her against her will and sexually assaulted her.
According to news reports, the woman, her boyfriend, Cleaves, and others had drinks at a bar, where the alleged victim’s boyfriend gave a friend a ride home. The woman reportedly left the bar with Cleaves, believing they were going back to the golf club; they ended up at the motel instead. Following the alleged sexual assault, the victim escaped the room and a woman in another of the motel’s rooms helped her.
Tom Izzo, MSU basketball coach, said the allegations against Cleaves don’t “seem to fit the person he knows Cleaves to be.” He also said that he did not picture Cleaves doing anything against somebody’s will.
Cleaves is charged with assault with intent to commit criminal sexual penetration, unlawful imprisonment, second-degree criminal sexual conduct, and two counts of third-degree CSC. If convicted, Cleaves could face up to 15 years in prison.
The problem with cases like these is that while we don’t know the details, it seems the victim left the bar willingly with Cleaves; they had also been drinking. Many times, a person will participate in sexual activity with someone willingly, then claim they were forced to engage in sexual acts. This is particularly true when those involved have been drinking. Did Cleaves assault the woman, or was the sexual contact consensual? These are some of the issues that are certain to be addressed by the basketball star’s defense attorney.
Cleaves’ arraignment is scheduled for Thursday in Flint at the 67th District Court.
As you can see, the penalties for those found guilty of sexual assault are severe. While Cleaves has been charged with second- and third-degree CSC, those charged with first-degree criminal sexual conduct may face a life prison term if convicted, depending on the facts of the case. If you have been accused of a sex-related offense, do not hesitate before contacting a seasoned Michigan sex crimes attorney.