Cuba Gooding Jr., the Oscar winner for “Jerry Maguire,” pled guilty Wednesday to one count of forcible touching in a long-running criminal case accusing him of abusing three different women at several Manhattan nightclubs in 2018 and 2019.
The single guilty plea came nearly three years after Gooding was arrested in the case, which had been delayed multiple times while his lawyers attempted to have the charges reduced or dismissed.
It had been set to go to trial at least twice, with an April 2020 trial date pushed back due to a spike of coronavirus cases in New York, which forced the state to close down most court proceedings.
Gooding, 54, was arrested in June 2019 after a 29-year-old woman informed police at Magic Hour Rooftop Bar & Lounge near Times Square that he pinched her breast without her consent.
He was charged in two other cases a few months later after more women came forward to accuse him of abuse. According to the latest accusations, he grabbed a server’s buttocks at Tao Downtown after making a sexually provocative remark to her, and physically touched a woman inappropriately at the Lavo New York nightclub, both in 2018.
Gooding pleaded guilty to the charge of trespassing at the Lavo nightclub. Gooding had previously disputed all charges of wrongdoing and pleaded not guilty to six misdemeanour counts.
His lawyers have suggested that overzealous prosecutors, swept up in the #MeToo frenzy, are attempting to criminalise “commonplace gestures” or misunderstandings.
If the Gooding case had gone to trial, the court had ordered that prosecutors may have called two more women to testify about their claims that Gooding had allegedly raped them.
Those women were among 19 other accusers prosecutors wanted to summon as witnesses, despite the fact that their claims had not resulted in criminal charges.
Gooding is also accused of rapping a lady in New York City in 2013, according to a lawsuit. Gooding hired a lawyer and is challenging the charges after a judge issued a default judgement in July because he hadn’t answered to the lawsuit.