Cuba Gooding Jr. has once again been accused of sexual abuse. Five months after the actor struck a last-minute settlement and narrowly avoided a trial on rape allegations, two women have filed civil suits alleging that he “sexually assaulted and battered” them in separate incidents in 2018 and in 2019. Both previously brought criminal charges against Gooding.
Jasmine Abbay alleges that in 2018, when she was working as a cocktail waitress at a club in Manhattan, Gooding “forced his tongue in her mouth” while she was serving drinks at his table. Last year, Gooding pleaded guilty to a criminal forcible touching charge for the incident, allowing him to avoid jail time. According to USA Today, court documents filed on Wednesday include part of a transcript from the 2022 proceedings, during which Gooding admitted that he “kissed the waitress on her lips” without her consent.
Gooding’s plea deal stipulated that if he stayed out of trouble and attended alcohol and behavior counseling for six months, he could withdraw the original guilty plea and instead plead guilty to harassment in the second degree, a noncriminal violation. When he re-pleaded, Gooding’s record was wiped of the crime, though his admission remains public. In her current suit, Abbay claims that Gooding “sexually assaulted and battered” her when he forcibly touched her, and that she experienced “psychological trauma, emotional distress, mental anguish, embarrassment, and humiliation” as a result.
A second woman, Kelsey Harbert, alleges that while at a bar in New York in June 2019, she approached Gooding and his girlfriend and sat with them. According to the Los Angeles Times, Harbert says Gooding put his hand on her thigh and grabbed her breast, “groping it, feeling around on it, as if I was a piece of meat.” The suit goes on to say that when Harbert reached for Gooding’s hand to move it, he grabbed her hand and tried to kiss it instead. Harbert apparently filed a police report soon after, leading to Gooding’s arrest for forcible touching. Soon after, other women came forward with stories of nonconsensual touching by Gooding. At a plea hearing in 2022, Gooding admitted that he subjected Harbert to “non-consensual physical contact.” Like Abbay, Harbert now says that she was “sexually assaulted and battered” as a result of his forcible touching.
Both women are seeking unspecified damages for assault and battery and lost wages, along with emotional, mental, and physical injury. They are being represented by Gloria Allred, who, according to Reuters, said in a statement that the women were “deprived of the justice they sought in the criminal case” and are “now seeking justice and accountability in their civil cases.”
The suits were filed in New York on Wednesday, ahead of the expiration of the state’s Adult Survivors Act. Beginning last November, the law opened a one-year window for survivors of assault to sue alleged perpetrators of sex crimes that may otherwise never have been adjudicated because their statute of limitations expired. In the Act’s final days, several lawsuits were filed against high profile men, including Sean “Diddy” Combs, former governor Andrew Cuomo, Mayor Eric Adams, Jamie Foxx, and Axl Rose. Gooding has not commented on the new suits, but the Cut has contacted a representative for the actor for comment. We will update this post when we hear back.