Jurors acquitted former NBA player Mateen Cleaves, but prosecutors say this video proved his guilt

Posted at 12:39 PM, Aug 26, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-26 18:50:28-04

GRAND BLANC, Mich. — Video from the night Mateen Cleaves was accused of sexual assault shows his accuser struggling and pulling away from the ex-Michigan State University star as he attempts to pull her back into a motel room.

Cleaves, who played six seasons in the NBA, was acquitted of four sexual assault charges by a jury August 20.

The surveillance video, which was played in court but not allowed to be broadcast while the trial was ongoing, was taken outside of the Knights Inn Motel in Grand Blanc, Michigan. The struggle, prosecutors say, took place between 1:30 a.m. and 2 a.m. It was released Friday by the Wayne County Prosecutor's office through a public records request.

The first clip shows Cleaves’ accuser walking away from the motel partially nude, followed closely by Cleaves in pursuit. Cleaves is seen wearing only socks.

The video shows Cleaves grab the woman, who we are not identifying, spin her around and pull her back toward the room she just tried to leave. She resists, bending her knees and trying to pull away.

The video has no audio.

Colleen Dowdall, a resident of the Knights Inn Motel on September 15, said she witnessed the struggle and testified during Cleaves’ criminal trial.

“She looked at me and she said: ‘Help me, help me, help me.’ And I had the phone in my hand and I told her I’m on the phone right now calling the police,” she said. “I looked Mateen in the eyes, he didn’t say one word."

Thirteen minutes later, Cleaves' accuser is seen on video again, this time running from the former MSU star who can be seen chasing her, then grabbing her with both arms and pulling her back to the room again.

The struggle continues until she ultimately falls to the ground. Seconds later, she is seen trying to pull away again. Once more, Cleaves pulls her back, wrapping both arms around her waist and pulling her back to the room.

Dowdall testified that she spoke to Cleaves’ accuser that night.

“She said he got on top of her,” Dowdall said in court, “she couldn’t fight him off and she just laid there.”

Cleaves’ attorneys maintained during trial that the sex was always consensual and that the video showed Cleaves trying to protect the partially nude woman when he pulled her back into the room.

Jurors ultimately sided with the former MSU star, deliberating for less than three hours before acquitting him of all charges.

In an e-mailed statement, Cleaves' attorney Frank Manley said the video was irrelevant.

"The video was presented in a Court of Law. A Jury found Mr. Cleaves Not Guilty of all charges," Manley wrote. "The complainant had her day in Court. The criminal matter is closed. Not Guilty remains Not Guilty."

This story was originally published by Ross Jones on WXYZ.