Cuba Gooding Jr. pleaded guilty to forcibly touching a woman in an incident dating back to 2018.
The actor was accused of forcibly touching three different women in 2018 and 2019 but pleaded guilty to just one charge. He admitted to the judge that he “kissed the waitress on her lips” without her consent at New York’s LAVO nightclub.
One woman who said she had been forcibly touched by Gooding at a nightclub on June 9, 2019, wanted to speak.
Gooding’s lawyers had publicly claimed that breast-size insecurity impacted her credibility.
She finally had the opportunity to address these smears. “I won’t lie. I’m very disappointed that we’re here today discussing a plea deal,” she said. “I want to talk about what happened to me. I want to talk about the aftermath of that.”
The woman described how the incident profoundly impacted her life. She went to New York City in 2019 for a neuroscience internship; she and a colleague from her lab decided to grab a drink and discuss her project.
“When I met the defendant, we were walking through the club to go see the view on the other side,” she told Justice Curtis Farber. “When I saw him, I was immediately super-excited. I recognized him from one of my favorite childhood films, Snow Dogs.” Although she was happy about meeting Gooding, she said she didn’t want to do anything that could suggest sexual interest. As a woman who had endured a previous sexual assault, she said she used defensive tactics with strange men, like sitting next to the woman accompanying Cuba, not next to him. “You can imagine my surprise when I saw a flash of movement and felt his hand on my breast, groping it, feeling around on it, as if it was a piece of meat for dinner that night and he wanted to make sure it was cooked well enough,” she said. “I was mortified and, quite honestly, just frozen and shocked from that.”
As the woman described the ordeal, Rothman and Gooding kept whispering to each other. “You’re a little distracting,” she said, imploring them to stay quiet. “If you could, please. Thank you.” After she concluded, Rothman once again picked at her words. “What she said happened here for the last 20 minutes is a product of her imagination for a large part.”
Gooding admitted to having non-consensual contact with two other women, one of whom was the victim who spoke as part of the plea deal. These two women are not included in the charge.
“I kissed the waitress on her lips,” Gooding said in admitting his crime. “Was that without her permission or authority?” Farber asked. “Yes, Your Honor,” said Gooding.
Gooding directly addressed the victims after appearing to be irritated with his attorney. “I don’t need the coaching,” Gooding said to his lawyer, adding to the court, “I apologize for making anybody ever feel inappropriately touched, anyone.”
Gooding still faces a civil suit in Manhattan federal court, where he is accused of rape. He has previously denied this allegation.
“I am a celebrity figure,” Gooding stated in court. “I come into contact with people. I never want them to feel slighted or uncomfortable in any way.”