No Jail Time for Cuba Gooding Jr. in ‘Forcible Touching’ Plea Deal

The “Jerry Maguire” actor pleaded guilty to forcibly kissing a worker at a New York City nightclub in 2018
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Actor Cuba Gooding Jr. wrapped up his New York City forcible touching case Thursday with a guilty plea to a lesser charge and no jail time after complying with the terms of a conditional plea agreement reached in April, when Gooding admitted to a judge that he “kissed the waitress on the lips” without consent at New York City nightclub LAVO in 2018.

It was not an, allegedly, an isolated incident. Gooding has been accused by more than 20 women of groping or forcibly kissing them in incidents going back more than two decades.

As the Associated Press reports, prosecutor Coleen Balbert said the Jerry Maguire Oscar-winner had kept out of trouble and finished six months of alcohol and behavior modification counseling, which let him withdraw his misdemeanor plea and plead guilty to a harassment violation, a lesser charge.

Additionally, Balbert told the judge she had received “positive reports for the last six months” from Gooding’s therapist. The actor will continue with therapy past the period required by his plea agreement.

The plea deal also means Gooding will not have a criminal record.

Many of Gooding Jr.’s accusers were not happy with the outcome.

“This plea deal feels like a misstep,” said Kelsey Harbert, a neuroscience student whose allegation that Gooding groped her at a nightclub led to his 2019 arrest but wasn’t part of his guilty plea, said. “After three long years of trying to hold Mr. Gooding accountable for touching my breast without my consent, having my day in court taken away from me is more disappointing than words can say.”

Harbert’s lawyer, Gloria Allred, called the plea deal “an insult” to those who accused Gooding and a “prosecutorial gift to a celebrity who is undeserving of such an outcome.”

Some of Gooding’s accusers, feeling the punishment was not enough, are going ahead with civil litigation against the actor, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

An impact statement from a waitress at LAVO read that Gooding “saw minimal repercussions” while his victims suffered.

In 2019, Gooding turned himself in to the New York City Police Department after a woman told police that a “highly intoxicated” Gooding touched her breast without consent at Magic Hour Rooftop Bar & Lounge in midtown Manhattan.

Months later, he was charged in two more cases, both of which happened in 2018—the waitress at LAVO, and for allegedly pinching a woman’s buttocks at TAO downtown.

Gooding has a separate ongoing sexual assault civil lawsuit. In 2020, he was accused of twice raping a woman in his New York City hotel room in 2013. He has denied it.

Gooding is one of a series of #MeToo cases being tried recently. Also in New York City, actor Kevin Spacey is on trial in a civil lawsuit for allegedly sexually assaulting actor Anthony Rapp, as screenwriter Paul Haggis heads to an NYC rape trial next week.

And in Los Angeles, the rape trial of former Miramax boss Harvey Weinstein has begun, two years after he was convicted on similar charges in NY, and for which the disgraced producer is serving a 23-year sentence. Meanwhile, That 70s Show actor Danny Masterson is also on trial for rape in L.A.


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