December 11, 2019 12:23:26 pm
Written by Julia Jacobs
Seven more women have come forward with accounts of unwanted sexual touching by actor Cuba Gooding Jr going back to 2003, prosecutors said in court documents, bringing the number of his accusers to 22.
Gooding, 51, has been charged with groping three of the women at Manhattan restaurants and nightclubs in 2018 and 2019. The other 19 have accused him of unwanted contact; those accusations, which come from several states, have not resulted in charges because, for the most part, they took place too long ago. But prosecutors in Manhattan are hoping to persuade a judge to allow the women to testify.
Prosecutors had previously revealed 12 additional accusers, and in a court filing obtained Monday by The New York Times, they listed seven more. In one accusation detailed in the court filing, a woman said that after she met Gooding at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah, in 2009, he took her to a concert, where he began to kiss her in a secluded hallway as she was attempting to leave.
Gooding then placed his hands on her buttocks, and pushed onto her crotch so forcefully that her tights ripped, according to the court filing. The woman bit Gooding’s cheek so she could escape, the filing said.
Another woman accused Gooding of sliding his hand down her pants and cupping her buttocks at a restaurant in Atlanta in 2011, and a different accuser said that he grabbed her vagina twice at a restaurant in Malibu, California, in 2016, according to the court filing. The other four women said Gooding had groped or kissed them without their consent in Manhattan, Los Angeles and San Francisco, and at a nightclub near the Sundance festival in 2003.
A lawyer for Gooding, Mark J. Heller, did not immediately provide a response to the new allegations Monday. Heller has previously said that Gooding denied any criminal wrongdoing and that when a celebrity is charged, people often “come out of the woodwork with allegations that are all over the place and, for the most part, aren’t provable.”
A spokeswoman for the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office declined to comment on whether any of the additional accusers had gone to local police with their accusations against Gooding.
Prosecutors want permission from a judge to admit the 19 women as witnesses against Gooding, even though he has not been charged in those instances. An assistant district attorney, Jenna Long, said in the court documents, which were filed November 18, that allowing a jury to hear from these witnesses will help show a “pattern of behavior.”
A judge will decide January 22 whether to admit any of the additional witnesses. Prosecutors in Manhattan are attempting a similar strategy in the coming sexual assault trial of Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein. Decisions on whether to admit such witnesses generally depend on how similar their accounts are to the behavior the defendant is formally charged with, and whether admitting them would prevent the defendant from receiving a fair trial.
Gooding has been formally charged in three reported incidents, each resulting in misdemeanor charges of forcible touching and third-degree sexual abuse. He has pleaded not guilty. The maximum penalty for the top charge, forcible touching, is a year in jail.
In the court filing, the district attorney’s office also detailed for the first time the circumstances behind the third pair of charges against Gooding. Prosecutors said that on the night of September 9, 2018, at Lavo, an Italian restaurant on East 58th Street with a downstairs nightclub, Gooding kissed the cheek of a server without her consent and then later grabbed her neck to try to kiss her mouth, touching her tooth with his lips as she tried to turn her head away. That same night, Gooding licked another server’s hand, the court filing said.
Gooding was previously charged with grabbing a woman’s breast at a rooftop bar near Times Square in June and pinching the buttocks of a woman who served him at a nightclub in October 2018.
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