Cuba Gooding Jr. Pleads Guilty to Forcible Touching

Cuba Gooding Jr. pleaded guilty to forcibly touching a woman at a New York nightclub in 2018. The Jerry Maguire actor was arrested in June 2019 and faced allegations of harassing three women, but his guilty plea was only in one of those cases. Gooding avoided jail time and will instead continue counseling.

Gooding, 54, told the judge he "kissed the waitress on her lips" without her consent at the LAVO New York nightclub, reports the Associated Press. The Oscar winner must continue counseling for the next six months so he can withdraw the misdemeanor plea in exchange for pleading guilty to a lesser harassment violation.

Gooding was arrested in June 2019. A 29-year-old woman told police the Boyz N The Hood star squeezed her breast without her consent at a club near Times Square. A few months later, Gooding faced charges in two more cases. In the first, a server accused Gooding of squeezing her buttocks and making a sexually suggestive remark at TAO Downtown. A woman also accused him of inappropriately touching her at the LAVO club. Both alleged incidents happened in 2018.

The actor denied the allegations against him and pleaded not guilty to six misdemeanor counts. His lawyers accused prosecutors of being overzealous and turning "commonplace gestures" into crimes in light of the #MeToo movement. The judge ruled prosecutors could call two more women to testify about their allegations against Gooding if the case went to trial, even though their claims did not result in criminal charges. The AP reports that prosecutors planned to call as many as 19 women who have accused Gooding of inappropriate behavior if the case went to trial.

In a separate case, a woman sued Gooding for allegedly raping her in New York City in 2013. In July 2021, U.S. District Court Judge Paul Crotty issued a default judgment against Gooding because it appeared the actor was purposefully ignoring the lawsuit, reports the Associated Press. Crotty said Gooding's failure to respond was an admission of liability under the law. The plaintiff, identified as Jane Doe, sought $6 million in damages.

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However, Gooding asked Crotty to set aside the finding of liability in September after he and the plaintiff agreed he was not willfully ignoring the lawsuit, Reuters reports. The default judgment was vacated, so Gooding filed a new motion in January to dismiss the lawsuit. Gooding has denied the woman's claims.

Gooding won the 1996 Best Supporting Actor Oscar for Jerry Maguire and earned an Emmy nomination for playing O.J. Simpson in The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story. He also starred in American Horror Story Season 6 in 2016. He stars in the upcoming thriller Beneath.