Cuba Gooding Jr. is facing a new charge in his groping trial. The actor was indicted in connection with a second incident on Thursday, but the Manhattan district attorney's office did not elaborate on what he is accused of. A spokesman said the indictment would be unsealed this week. Gooding's arraignment on the new charge will reportedly be Tuesday in Manhattan Supreme Court.
Gooding appeared in Manhattan Criminal Court on Thursday for what was set to be the beginning of the trial over the initial charges. He sat in the courtroom for several minutes before prosecutors asked Judge Marisol Martinez Alonso to delay the jury selection because of the new charges.
Gooding, 51, was to stand trial over an encounter on the night of June 9 at Magic Hour Rooftop Bar, a pricey lounge at the Moxy NYC Times Square hotel in Manhattan. According to the criminal complaint, the accuser said that Gooding placed his hand on her breast without her consent and squeezed.
The Radio actor voluntarily surrendered to the police in June and was charged with third-degree misdemeanor sexual abuse and forcible touching, which carries a maximum penalty of one year in jail. Shortly after his arrest, TMZ published blurry surveillance footage it says captured the incident.
Gooding pleaded not guilty to the previous charge and has maintained his innocence.
The new charge, according to the district attorney's office, will move the prosecution from Criminal Court to State Supreme Court, a higher-level court. That could mean the new charge is more serious than the ones he is already facing, though the office did not indicate the severity of the new charge.
Mark J. Heller, a lawyer for Gooding, told The New York Times that he believed the prosecutor's office was seeking to move the case to the Supreme Court as a way to buy more time. Heller said prosecutors have conducted several interviews, reviewed videos and completed a DNA test on the accuser's dress.
"All of this to support a three-second video that did not reveal Cuba committing any crime," he said. "Rather than be embarrassed and answer that they were not ready today, they simply used the technique of moving this through an indictment in the Supreme Court."0comments
Ahead of the trial, Gooding's lawyers tried to get the charges dismissed, submitting testimony from two people who said they were present at the time of the incident and who said they did not see Gooding touch the woman. Gooding also asserted that his accused "is predisposed to make false allegations against the defendant."
But Judge Phyillis Chu said that "the conflicting factual allegations between the criminal court information and the defendant's motion should be resolved at trial."