News and Commentary

VIDEO: Former NBA Player Acquitted Of Rape; Video Shows Him Dragging Struggling Alleged Victim In The Nude
Mateen Cleaves Mugshot, 2016
Mundy Township Police Department

Last week, a jury acquitted former NBA player Mateen Cleaves of four charges of sexual assault stemming from an incident with a 24-year-old woman in 2016.

In surveillance footage, a nude Cleaves can be seen dragging the struggling alleged victim, wearing nothing but a black bra, outside of a motel room around 2 a.m.

The footage was released this week by the Wayne County Prosecutor’s office through a public records request, according to ABC affiliate WXYZ Detroit. Though it was withheld from the public during the trial, it was presented in court.

“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,” WXYZ Detroit said of the footage, which can be viewed below. “The video shows Cleaves grab the woman, who we are not identifying, spin her around and pull her back towards the room she just tried to leave. She resists, bending her knees and trying to pull away. … 13 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.”

Colleen Dowdall, a motel resident and witness to the incident, said in court that she called the police after the alleged victim repeatedly yelled “help me” during the dragging. “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,” Dowdall recalled. “I looked Mateen in the eyes, he didn’t say one word.”

“She said he got on top of her,” the witness added, referencing a conversation she had that night with the alleged victim. “She couldn’t fight him off and she just laid there.”

Cleaves’ attorneys claim the video shows their client attempting “to protect the partially nude woman when he pulled her back into the room,” WXYZ reported.

“The video was presented in a Court of Law. A Jury found Mr. Cleaves Not Guilty of all charges,” Cleaves defense attorney Frank Manley said in a statement. “The complainant had her day in Court. The criminal matter is closed. Not Guilty remains Not Guilty.”

At the time of his initial arrest, the former Detroit Piston posted to Twitter: “My family and I are devastated by these false charges. I am innocent and the allegations are without merit. We truly appreciate your continued support.”

According to Click on Detroit, the accuser met Cleaves at a charity golf event the day before the incident. At about 1 a.m., the accuser’s boyfriend left a location where the group was drinking to give another friend a ride home, according to the report. “The victim, thinking they would return to the golf club, rode with Cleaves in his car. It is alleged that Cleaves took the complainant to a motel located in the 2400 block of West Grand Blanc, in Mundy Township, held her in a room against her will, and sexually assaulted her, [Wayne County Prosecutor Kym L.] Worthy said.”

It took jurors three hours to side with Mr. Cleaves, acquitting him of all charges.