Actor Cuba Gooding Jr. pleaded guilty Wednesday to forcibly touching a woman at a New York nightclub in 2018.
Gooding, 54, the Oscar-winning star of “Jerry Maguire,” entered the plea nearly three years after was arrested. The case was delayed several times as his lawyers sought to get charges reduced or dismissed.
Gooding, who was accused of violating three women at various night spots in New York City in 2018 and 2019, pleaded guilty to just one of the allegations.
He told the judge that he “kissed the waitress on her lips” without consent at the LAVO New York nightclub.
Gooding’s plea deal calls for no jail time. If he continues counseling for six months, he can withdraw the misdemeanor plea and plead guilty to a lesser violation of harassment.
Frank Rothman, an attorney for Gooding, said he is "relieved that the DA’s office has finally seen what this case is really about and its true value."
"He’s in therapy," Rothman said of Gooding. "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."
Gooding was arrested in June 2019 after a 29-year-old woman told police he squeezed her breast without her consent at Magic Hour Rooftop Bar & Lounge near Times Square.
A few months later, he was charged in two additional cases as more women came forward to accuse him of abuse. The new charges alleged that he pinched a server’s buttocks after having made a sexually suggestive remark to her at TAO Downtown and that he forcibly touched a woman inappropriately at the LAVO nightclub, both in 2018.
Gooding had pleaded not guilty to six misdemeanor counts and denied all allegations of wrongdoing. His lawyers have argued that overzealous prosecutors, caught up in the fervor of the #MeToo movement, are trying to turn “commonplace gestures” or misunderstandings into crimes.
The judge had ruled that had the case gone to trial, prosecutors could have called two additional women to testify about their allegations that Gooding also violated them. Those women, whose claims did not result in criminal charges, were among 19 other accusers whom prosecutors were seeking to call as witnesses.
Prosecutors say the judge had since reversed that decision — a ruling that factored into their decision to not go to trial.
Along with the criminal case, Gooding is accused in a lawsuit of raping a woman in New York City in 2013. After a judge issued a default judgment in July because Gooding hadn’t responded to the lawsuit, Gooding retained a lawyer and is fighting the allegations.