Actor Cuba Gooding Jr pleads guilty to forcible touching

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NEW YORK (AP) — Actor Cuba Gooding Jr. pleaded guilty Wednesday to forcibly touching a woman at a New York nightclub in 2018.

The Oscar-winning “Jerry Maguire” star’s guilty plea comes nearly three years after his arrest in the case, which has seen several delays as his lawyers try to reduce or dismiss the charges.

Gooding, 54, has pleaded guilty to only one charge of assaulting three different women at multiple Manhattan nightclubs in 2018 and 2019.

He told the judge he “kissed the waitress on the lips” without consent at New York’s LAVO nightclub.

Gooding’s plea deal calls for no jail time. If he continues counseling for 6 months, he can withdraw the misdemeanor plea and plead guilty to the lesser harassment.

Gooding was arrested in June 2019 after a 29-year-old woman told police he squeezed her breasts without her consent at the Magic Hour Rooftop Bar & Lounge near Times Square.

He was charged in two more cases a few months later, as more women came forward to accuse him of abuse. The new charges allege he pinched a waiter’s hip after making sexually suggestive remarks to a waiter at TAO Downtown in 2018, and forcibly touched a woman inappropriately at the LAVO nightclub.

Gooding previously pleaded not guilty to six misdemeanor charges and denied all charges of wrongdoing. His lawyers argue that overzealous prosecutors caught up in the #MeToo movement are trying to turn “common gestures” or misunderstandings into crimes.

The judge ruled that if Gooding’s case went to trial, prosecutors could have called two other women to testify on their allegations that Gooding also assaulted them. The women’s allegations, which did not lead to criminal charges, are among 19 other plaintiffs that prosecutors are seeking to call witnesses.

In addition to the criminal case, Gooding is also accused in a 2013 lawsuit of raping a woman in New York City. The actor has hired an attorney and is fighting the charges after a judge handed a default judgment in July over Gooding’s failure to respond to the lawsuit.

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