NOTE: This article contains descriptions of abusive situations that some readers may find upsetting. Please read at your own discretion.
Cuba Gooding Jr. has pleaded guilty to a misdemeanour charge of forcibly touching a server after he kissed the woman without her consent while she was working at the LAVO New York nightclub in 2018.
Wednesday’s guilty plea comes amidst the much-delayed legal proceedings against the actor, in which prosecutors also accused Gooding of inappropriately touching two additional women at Manhattan nightclubs between 2018 and 2019.
Gooding, 54, was arrested in June 2019 after a 29-year-old woman accused the actor of squeezing her breast without consent at the Magic Hour Rooftop Bar & Lounge in New York.
When her allegations were made public, two more women came forward, including a server at TAO Downtown who said Gooding pinched her buttocks at the New York club in 2018, and the waitress from LAVO New York.
Gooding has admitted to inappropriately touching the two women from Magic Hour and TAO, but has only pleaded guilty to the LAVO nightclub accusation.
As part of the actor’s plea deal, Gooding must continue alcohol and behaviour modification treatment — which he started in 2019 — for six more months and have no new arrests. In half a year, Gooding can re-plead his charges down to harassment.
If the terms of his plea bargain are broken, the Jerry Maguire actor could face up to a year in prison. But if Gooding keeps to the deal and successfully pleads down to the lesser charge, he can get off on time served.
“Cuba Gooding Jr. entered into a re-pleader today whereby in six months his case will be disposed of with a violation, which is not a crime, resulting in no criminal record,” Gooding’s attorney, Peter Toumbekis, said via CNN.
Until now, Gooding had previously denied all allegations of sexually harassing and touching women non-consensually and pleaded not guilty to six other misdemeanour charges. His defence lawyers argued that Gooding was being unfairly targeted in the ardour of the #MeToo movement, and that the allegations against him were attempting to turn “commonplace” gestures into crimes.
Gooding’s trial for the 2018 and 2019 accusations was meant to begin in April 2020, but was delayed because of COVID-19 lockdowns. By August 2020, New York prosecutors said that at least 30 women had come forward with experiences of being inappropriately touched by Gooding.
A judge ruled that if Gooding’s case went to trial then prosecutors could call two more women, who claimed to have been groped by the actor, to the witness stand — though their allegations didn’t result in formal charges.
If you or someone you know is experiencing abuse or is involved in an abusive situation, please visit the Canadian Resource Centre for Victims of Crime for help. It is also reachable toll-free at 1-877-232-2610.