A newly released video from 2015 shows former NBA player Mateen Cleaves pulling a naked woman back to his motel room.
Cleaves was acquitted last week on four counts of sexual assault after the woman, seen in the September 2015 video above, accused him of raping her. The video, taken by surveillance cameras at the motel where the alleged rape occurred, was submitted as evidence during the trial. It was only released to the public on Friday after WXYZ Detroit published it.
The surveillance video shows a naked Cleaves chasing down the half-naked woman twice as she attempts to run away. The woman, who has not been identified publicly, resists Cleaves both times as he pulls her by both hands back to his motel room. On the woman’s last attempt to get away, she appears to give up, and Cleaves pulls her back to the room.
Although the video does not have audio, an eyewitness testified during the trial that the accuser was screaming for help as Cleaves dragged her back to his room.
“She looked at me and she said, ‘Help me, help me, help me,’” the witness testified in court. “And I had the phone in my hand and I told her I’m on the phone right now calling the police. I looked Mateen in the eyes, he didn’t say one word.”
The eyewitness added in court that Cleaves’ accuser told her that night that the basketball player raped her.
“She said that he got on top of her, she couldn’t fight him off and that she just laid there,” the witness said.
A jury of nine women and three men deliberated Cleaves’ case on Aug. 20 and found the former NBA player not guilty of rape. The jury saw the footage but still chose not to convict Cleaves on four counts of sexual assault. If convicted, he could have been sentenced to 15 years in prison.
Defense attorneys for Cleaves offered an odd explanation for the video in closing arguments.
“All you saw there was a gentleman going out to make sure that a lady wasn’t walking around a motel naked,” attorney Mike Manley said.
Manley argued that the 2015 incident was consensual and pointed out that the accuser posed for photos with Cleaves, took his phone number and went to the motel room willingly with him, where she admitted to kissing him. Manley also said the woman was an “obnoxious, remorseful drunk” by the time she spoke to police.
Genesee Circuit Court Judge Cathy Dowd dismissed the case in 2016, but prosecutors appealed in 2017. After Dowd retired, Judge Archie L. Hayman took over the case, ruling that Dowd abused her “discretion of power” when she found no probable cause in the first case.
Need help? Visit RAINN’s National Sexual Assault Online Hotline or the National Sexual Violence Resource Center’s website.