Cuba Gooding Jr. to Avoid Jail Time in Forcible Touching Case

Cuba Gooding Jr. avoided jail time in his New York City forcible touching case Thursday, pleading guilty to a lesser charge after complying with the terms of a conditional plea agreement reached in April. Prosecutor Coleen Balbert said in court Thursday that the Radio actor, 54, has stayed out of trouble and completed six months of alcohol and behavior modification counseling, which allowed him to withdraw his misdemeanor plea and plead guilty to a harassment violation, according to CNN.

Balbert continued that she had received "positive reports" from Gooding's therapist for the last six months and is continuing with treatment beyond the required time set in place by his plea deal. If the Oscar winner had failed to comply with the terms of his plea deal, he could have been sentenced to up to a year in jail. The actor faces no additional penalties and will not have a criminal record after pleading guilty to a noncriminal violation.

Gooding pleaded guilty in April to a misdemeanor charge after being accused of forcibly kissing an employee at a New York nightclub in 2018. Dozens of allegations of inappropriate behavior have been brought against the actor in recent years surrounding his 2019 arrest, as Gooding's case took more than three years to play out in court due to delays caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The nightclub worker who came forward about Gooding's behavior said in a victim impact statement read by Balbert in court that the Jerry Maguire actor "saw minimal repercussions" while she and his other alleged victims are left to deal with the consequences of his actions. Outside of court after Thursday's hearing, accuser Kelsey Harbert told reporters that Gooding's actions "tug at [her] sense of peace every single day."

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"At what point are we going to take this seriously? When will we decide that this is dangerous behavior? And when is it the court's responsibility to protect the public from someone like him?" Harbert asked, as per CNN. "The system is supposed to be about what he did. Not who he is." Gloria Allred, who is acting as Harbert's attorney, told reporters she would be discussing with Harbert whether or not she wanted to pursue a civil lawsuit against Gooding in the future.