On Thursday, October 13, actor Cuba Gooding Jr. pled guilty to a single count of harassment in accordance with a deal with prosecutors sparing him any jail time while resolving a criminal case stemming from complaints of sexual misconduct by multiple women.
The citation for second-degree harassment, which is classified as a non-criminal violation in New York’s penal code, similar to trespassing, will remain on Gooding’s record, but his April guilty plea to the more serious criminal misdemeanor of forcible touching will be expunged, according to a spokesperson for the Manhattan district attorney.
Gooding, 54, was authorized to withdraw his prior plea after prosecutors confirmed in court that he had fulfilled the requirements of his April plea agreement by completing court-ordered alcohol and behavior modification therapy for six months without being arrested again.
As part of his initial plea, which arose from forcibly kissing a woman in a nightclub in September 2018, Gooding acknowledged to subjecting two additional women to nonconsensual physical contact in October 2018 and June 2019.
In a separate civil case filed in federal court, the Oscar-winning actor is accused of rape. He is one of countless influential men in Hollywood who have been publicly accused of sexual abuse since claims against film producer Harvey Weinstein sparked the global MeToo movement in 2017. Gooding has denied the charges of rape.
Frank Rothman, one of Gooding’s attorneys, told Reuters that Gooding’s harassment plea in Manhattan benefited his client by sparing him a criminal record and more jail time.
“Three victims led to six charges in an indictment. Two of the three charges were dismissed outright, while the third resulted in a guilty plea to harassment as a violation,” Rothman said.
Assistant District Attorney Coleen Balbert stated in court that the initial plea agreement made in April was the result of “extensive conversations between the defense, myself, and the complaining witnesses in this case.”
Balbert stated that the plea agreement would exempt the accusers from testifying or facing cross-examination at trial.
Kelsey Harbert, one of Gooding’s accusers, expressed fury at the verdict during an online news conference with her attorney, Gloria Allred.
“I’ve waited three years for the chance to discuss the injustice committed against Cuba Gooding Jr.” Herbert stated, “I had wanted to do so in the context of a trial where he would be held accountable for the irreparable harm he caused me one summer night in 2019.”