Security footage played in court that showed a former Michigan State University basketball star pulling a young woman to his hotel room wasn’t enough to convince a jury that the man sexually assaulted her.
ABC 7 reports that a Grand Blanc jury in Michigan acquitted Mateen Cleaves of four counts of sexual assault on August 20. The jury deliberated for less than three hours before returning the verdict, despite the video and despite testimony from a witness who said she heard the woman asking for help.
“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,” witness Colleen Dowdall testified. “I looked Mateen in the eyes, he didn’t say one word.”
The video, which captured the incident outside of the Knights Inn Motel in Grand Blanc in September 2015, showed Cleaves, wearing shorts and a pair of socks, grab the woman as she walked away from the hotel topless, wearing only a bra and a skirt. Around 13 minutes later, the woman emerged from the hotel again, this time running.
Cleaves chased her down and while grabbing her arms, pulled her back into the hotel room.
Cleaves’ defense attorneys argued that he was simply trying to protect the woman and that sex that night was completely consensual. Prosecutors argued that Cleaves, a married man with children, forced himself on an intoxicated woman and after pulling her back into the hotel room, raped her twice.
“Look at the surveillance video of the woman running away, screaming ‘help me, help me, help me’ and then being forced back into the room,” Assistant Wayne County Prosecutor David Champine told jurors, according to Detroit Free Press.
Defense lawyer Mike Manley argued that the woman put her number into Cleaves’ phone and went to the man’s hotel room willingly. Manley added that Cleaves pulled the woman back into the hotel room because she was intoxicated and half-naked.
“All you saw there was a gentleman going out to make sure that a lady wasn’t walking around a motel naked,” Manley said. “You had an obnoxious, belligerent, remorseful drunk at that point.”
Cleaves’ attorneys released a statement following the verdict.
“The whole video along with all the evidence was presented in a court of law. The jury found Mr. Cleaves not guilty of all charges. The complainant had her day in court. The criminal matter is closed. Not guilty remains not guilty.”
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[Feature Photo: Mateen Cleaves via AP/Al Goldis, File]