Cuba Gooding Jr. walked out of a Manhattan courtroom on Wednesday, April 13, a free man after pleading guilty to one count of forcibly touching a woman in a nightclub in 2018. Gooding will have to continue “alcohol and behavior modification treatment” for six months, after which he will be allowed to re-plead to harassment (a lesser charge), and have the case sealed. According to Gooding’s lawyer, Peter Toumbekis, barring any additional legal trouble, “in six months his case will be disposed of with a violation, which is not a crime, resulting in no criminal record.”
Gooding was first arrested and charged in New York City after allegedly groping a woman without her consent in 2019. Days later, comedian Claudia Oshry accused him of touching her without her consent when she was 16 in 2012. And the allegations didn’t stop there. In the years since, at least 20 women have accused Gooding of inappropriate behavior, ranging from unwanted touching to forcible kissing and rape. Of those allegations, only three made it to a Manhattan court: the first allegation from 2019, and two other instances of unwanted touching — one allegation of touching a woman’s butt without consent at a nightclub in October of 2018 and another allegation of inappropriate behavior from September of 2018. Though the actor initially pleaded not guilty, as part of the plea deal, he admitted to kissing a woman without her permission in 2018. He also reportedly admitted to the other two accusations against him. “I apologize for ever making anybody feel inappropriately touched,” he said, per the New York Times.
As part of the plea deal, three of Gooding’s accusers were allowed to give impact statements to the court, and one spoke on Wednesday. “I was mortified,” said the original accuser from 2019, who claimed Gooding had groped her breast without consent in a nightclub. “My body was being placed under the dominion of someone else without my consent.” As she attempted to relate the case to broader issues, Gooding’s lawyer, Frank Rothman, reportedly interrupted her. And when she was finished telling her account, Rothman reportedly pushed back, saying, “What she said happened here for the last 20 minutes is a product of her imagination for a large part.”
Meanwhile, the dozens of other women who came forward with allegations against the actor were not included at all. (Though the Manhattan district attorney’s office originally attempted to have 19 other women testify as witnesses at trial, the judge rejected the idea, leading, in part, to the plea deal.) And Gooding is still facing a lawsuit from a Jane Doe accusing him of raping her in 2013. When the lawsuit was first filed in 2020, Gooding’s attorney at the time, Mark Heller, denied the allegations, telling Vulture in a statement that they were “completely false and perjurious.”