Update: Actor Cuba Gooding Jr. pleaded guilty Wednesday in a deal with prosecutors to one count of forcible touching, avoiding prison time after being accused of groping three women. He admitted to the judge that he "kissed the waitress on her lips" without her consent at a New York City nightclub in 2018. If he complies with the terms of the agreement, Gooding's record could be expunged, Deadline reports. The actor had earlier denied the charges, per ABC News. "I apologize for ever making anybody feel inappropriately touched," Gooding said in a Manhattan courtroom. Our story from October follows:
Cuba Gooding Jr. will go on trial in February in his New York City groping case, a judge said Monday, with prosecutors planning to portray the actor as a serial offender and the defense contending the case is an example of #MeToo run amok. Judge Curtis Farber set a Feb. 1 trial date in the case, which involves allegations the Oscar-winning Jerry Maguire star violated three different women at three different Manhattan night spots in 2018 and 2019, the AP reports. One of the women alleged Gooding pinched her buttocks. Another said he squeezed her breast. Farber had expressed a desire to start the trial sooner, possibly in December, but Gooding lawyer Peter Toumbekis said he’ll be tied up with trials in the Bronx then.
Gooding had been scheduled to go on trial in April 2020, but that was scuttled as coronavirus cases surged in New York and the state shut down most court matters. Gooding was arrested in June 2019 after a 29-year-old woman told police he squeezed her breast without her consent at Magic Hour Rooftop Bar & Lounge near Times Square. A few months later, Gooding was charged in two additional incidents as more women came forward to accuse him of abuse. He was accused of pinching a server’s buttocks after making a sexually suggestive remark to her at TAO Downtown and forcibly touching a woman inappropriately at the LAVO New York nightclub, both in 2018.
In all, Gooding, 53, is charged with six misdemeanor counts that could land him in jail if he is convicted. His lawyers have argued that overzealous prosecutors are trying to turn "commonplace gestures" or misunderstandings into crimes. Farber previously ruled that prosecutors can call two additional women to testify about their allegations that Gooding also violated them. Those women, whose claims did not result in criminal charges, were among 19 other accusers whom prosecutors were seeking to call as witnesses. In addition to the criminal case, Gooding is accused in a lawsuit of raping a woman in New York City in 2013.
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