Former Michigan State basketball star Mateen Cleaves was found not guilty Tuesday on all counts in a sexual assault case that dates back almost four years (via MLive.com).
Cleaves, 41, was tried in Genesee (Michigan) Circuit Court on single counts of second-degree criminal sexual conduct, third-degree criminal sexual conduct, unlawful imprisonment and assault with intent to commit sexual penetration stemming from an alleged sexual assault of a woman on Sept. 15, 2015, in Mundy Township, south of Flint.
The verdict came after six days of testimony from the alleged victim, her former boyfriend and police who responded to the scene.
“I’ve been waiting for this day for four years,” Cleaves said (via MLive.com), who apologized to his wife and children for "putting them through this."
He also said it has been a rough four years for him personally.
“Having to endure all of that, hearing that lie, and being portrayed as an animal, as a rapist. That’s the worst person you can be is a rapist,” he said. “To be portrayed as a rapist, it broke my heart every day.”
Following several hours of closing arguments Tuesday in Genesee Circuit Judge Celeste D. Bell’s packed courtroom, the jury of 10 women and four men deliberated for less than three hours before returning its verdict.
Cleaves was arraigned in March 2016 on multiple felony charges.
However, since-retired Genesee District Judge M. Cathy Dowd dismissed all charges against Cleaves in December 2016, saying at the time that although security camera footage shows Cleaves pulling the woman back into a hotel room, “there are a number of factors that led (Dowd) to believe something else was going on.”
Since-retired judge Archie Hayman later reinstated the charges following an appeal by prosecutors, agreeing that Dowd had overstepped her power in dismissing the charges.
Cleaves, a three-time All-American at Michigan State from 1996-2000, led the Spartans to the 2000 national championship and was named Most Outstanding Player of the Final Four. He was named Big Ten Player of the Year twice.
He played 167 games with four NBA teams across six seasons.