Award-winning Hollywood actor Cuba Gooding Jr. got swept up by the #MeToo movement a few years ago and faces allegations of unwanted sexual misconduct from nearly two dozen women.
Gooding pleaded guilty to one count of forcible touching in a New York City courtroom Wednesday regarding just one of those alleged incidents, the Washington Examiner reported.
Overall, more than 20 women have accused the 54-year-old actor of either groping them or giving them unwelcome kisses, with many of those allegations of sexual misconduct occurring in New York City nightclubs.
Guilty plea deal
The Associated Press reported that Gooding’s guilty plea Wednesday was part of a deal offered by prosecutors that would likely keep him out of jail, and is a change from his prior not guilty pleas on several misdemeanor charges related to his alleged behavior toward women in NYC nightclubs over the years.
In this particular case, the actor admitted to having forcibly “kissed the waitress on her lips” without her consent in 2018 at the LAVO nightclub. He still faces charges in two other separate incidents, one of which involved him fondling a woman’s breasts at a bar near Times Square in 2019 — after which he was arrested — as well as making sexually suggestive comments and pinching a woman’s butt at the TAO Downtown club in 2018.
“I apologize for making anybody ever feel inappropriately touched,” Gooding said. “I am a celebrity figure. I come into contact with people. I never want them to feel slighted or uncomfortable in any way.”
The AP further reported that the conditions of the plea deal stipulate that the actor can avoid any jail time if he continues counseling for alcoholism and his behavior for six months, after which he can swap out the guilty plea to misdemeanor forcible touching with one for a lesser charge of harassment.
Therapy and civil litigation
According to NBC News, Gooding attorney Frank Rothman said after the plea deal that he was “relieved that the DA’s office has finally seen what this case is really about and its true value.”
“He’s in therapy,” the attorney explained. “He’s done everything right. And it’s the appropriate resolution to not give somebody a criminal record that’s stayed out of trouble for years, done everything correctly, and had very questionable allegations levied against him. This was the appropriate resolution. This was the right compromise.”
Of course, not everybody is happy with the terms of the deal, including attorney Gloria Allred, who represents three of Gooding’s accusers, who vowed to continue seeking accountability from the actor by way of civil litigation, according to the AP.
Still faces an accusation of rape in 2013
Meanwhile, NBC noted that Gooding must still eventually deal with what is likely the worst of the allegations lodged against him, one that involves a woman who filed a lawsuit that accused the actor of raping her in 2013.
Gooding initially failed to respond to that lawsuit so a judge issued a default judgment against him, but Gooding’s attorney is now said to be fighting back against that suit.