GENESEE COUNTY, Mich. (WJBK) - Judge M. Cathy Dowd dismissed all charges against Cleaves, saying she was unable to find probable cause to bind the case over to trial.
The Wayne County Prosecutor's Office will appeal the decision. Cleaves was charged with two counts of third-degree criminal sexual conduct, second-degree criminal sexual conduct, assault with intent to commit criminal sexual penetration, and unlawful imprisonment.
"I am just thankful for my wife standing by my side through this whole thing," Cleaves said. "I am thankful for my family and close friends are still by my side and I am thankful and very grateful my lawyer fought for my life as if I was his own son."
Cleaves, 39, was accused of sexually assaulting a woman at a motel in the Flint area last year. He appeared in court Monday in Flint's 67th District Court on Monday for his preliminary exam. The former Michigan State basketball star allegedly met the woman at a charity golf outing in September 2015. The woman says she invited him to a bar for drinks and then the two went to a Flint area motel.
Cleaves also spoke about how grateful he was at the judge's ruling.
"I am just happy that I can walk away from here a free man," he said. "I am getting ready to move forward. I am thankful and grateful for the support I've had."
Security camera video from the motel allegedly showed Cleaves and the woman both naked, and him "dragging her back inside the room." A witness' testimony echoed those details, saying that she heard cries for help from the victim and saw Cleaves drag the woman into the room twice.
"She was crying and she was screaming, she said 'help me, help me, help me'" testified Cathy Dowdall at a previous hearing. "He had her hands and was dragging her back into his room."
The woman ran into her room, Dowdall said, adding that the victim told her that she and Cleaves had sex.
The hearings were highlighted during the past few weeks including some tense exchanges between Genesee County Judge Dowd and Wayne County assistant prosecutor Lisa Lindsey. Lindsey accused Dowd in the past of favoring the defense.
"I am not going to believe that," Dowd said at one point.
"You don't have to believe that, but the truth is a lie," Lindsey said.
Wayne County prosecutors handled the case due to a possible conflict of interest with the Genesee County Prosecutor's Office.