Cuba Gooding Jr.'s Rape Trial Stopped Right Before It Started

Actor settles with woman who said he raped her in New York hotel room a decade ago
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jun 6, 2023 11:25 AM CDT
Cuba Gooding Jr. Avoids Rape Trial With Last-Minute Deal
Actor Cuba Gooding Jr. appears in court on Jan. 22, 2020, in New York.   (Alec Tabak/The Daily News via AP, File, Pool)

Just as a trial was to begin, it was revealed Tuesday that Cuba Gooding Jr. has settled accusations that he raped a woman in a New York City hotel a decade ago, according to court records. The actor had insisted through lawyers that his encounter with the woman was consensual and that she bragged afterward to others that she had sex with a celebrity, per the AP. The trial was to start with jury selection in New York federal court as the Oscar-winning Jerry Maguire star faced allegations that he met the woman at a Manhattan restaurant, persuaded her to join him at a hotel, and convinced her to stop at his room so he could change clothing. The anonymous woman, who would've been forced to reveal her name at trial, said in her lawsuit that Gooding raped her in his room.

Minutes after jurors were to begin assembling in a courtroom, a calendar entry in the official court record noted the trial was off as the parties had resolved the matter. The lawsuit sought $6 million in damages. Attorney Gloria Allred, one of several representing the woman, declined comment. Other lawyers, including those representing Gooding, didn't immediately respond to requests for comment. The lawsuit was filed against a man who authorities say has been accused of committing sexual misconduct against more than 30 other women, including groping, unwanted kissing, and other inappropriate behavior.

Late last week, the judge seemed to strengthen the woman's hand at trial and in settlement negotiations by ruling that he would let three women testify they also were subjected to sudden sexual assaults or attempted sexual assaults after meeting Gooding in social settings such as festivals, bars, nightclubs, and restaurants. One of the women who'd planned to testify at the trial was Kelsey Harbert, who told police Gooding fondled her without her consent at Magic Hour Rooftop Bar & Lounge near Times Square in 2019. Harbert said last year after Gooding pleaded guilty in New York state court to a charge that spared him from jail or a criminal history that never getting her day in court was "more disappointing than words can say." (More Cuba Gooding Jr. stories.)

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