After a woman accused Cuba Gooding Jr. of non-consensually groping her, it was unclear if the actor would turn himself in. Now, after reporting to police, Gooding is mounting his legal defense against the claims being made against him.
Gooding, 51, voluntarily surrendered to the Police Department’s Special Victims’ Division in Harlem, New York on June 13 — less than a week after he was accused of forcible touching by a woman at Magic Hour, a rooftop bar attached to the Moxy NYC Times Square Hotel in Manhattan.
Jenna Long, an assistant district attorney, confirmed to The New York Times that Gooding was charged with sexual abuse and forcible touching in the third degree.
A police official told The New York Times that they were able to corroborate the unnamed victim's narrative through security footage obtained from the bar, which appears to depict Gooding forcibly touching her.
The victim is a student at New York University. She reported the crime at 12:30 a.m. on May 10. Police reviewed the security footage until 6 a.m. that day.
Police also said they were investigating a years-old groping allegation made against Gooding. They did not give details about the second accusation, which they became aware of when a woman came forward after hearing about the incident on the rooftop bar in the news. Whether Gooding will face charges as a result of this second allegation remains unclear. New York state's statute of limitations for forcible touching is two years after the crime allegedly occurred.
Gooding left the facility in handcuffs two hours after walking in and was later released on his own recognizance. He is due back in court on June 26. He intends to plead not guilty to the accusations, according to CBS New York.
Mark J. Heller, Gooding's lawyer, encouraged the judge to proceed with the case as quickly as possible.
“We have reviewed extensively the video of every minute he was in that facility,” Heller said, according to The Times. “I can tell you that there was not a scintilla of criminal culpability.”
Judge Herbert Moses countered Heller's plea for speed.
“The people will investigate,” Moses said. “Speak with the witnesses. I don’t know how long that it will take.”
Gooding was described as looking "tired" by The Times as he left the court.
“It’s been a long day,” he said, surrounded by cameras.
"I trust the system, let the process speak for itself," Gooding added, according to USA Today. "There's a tape that shows what really happened."
Cyrus R. Vance Jr., the Manhattan district attorney who chose to pursue charges for Gooding, has previously faced criticism for deciding not to prosecute Harvey Weinstein over similar accusations in 2015. Vance was widely criticized at the time.
Gooding potentially faces a year in prison if convicted of the crime.
Gooding is an Academy Award-winning actor, best known for his role in the film "Jerry McGuire." He recently garnered critical acclaim playing O.J. Simpson in the 2016 Ryan Murphy-helmed limited series, "American Crime Story: The People v. O.J. Simpson.”
Gooding had previously been criticized — but faced no official charges — for lifting the dress of "American Crime Story" co-star Sarah Paulson during an appearance at the Los Angeles PaleyFest in 2017, according to USA Today.
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