“Jerry Maguire” star Cuba Gooding Jr. pleaded guilty to forcibly touching a woman on Wednesday.
The Academy Award winner was accused of sexual misconduct by more than 20 women, for forcibly kissing or groping them in instances going back two decades.
Manhattan prosecutors agreed to a sweetheart plea deal that allowed Gooding accept one misdemeanor charge of forcible touching, which carries no jail time, and can be reduced to lesser charge of harassment if he avoids any arrests in the next six months.
The actor must continue the alcohol and behavior modification treatment program he has been in since 2019, and will face up to a year in jail if he fails to comply.
Gooding was facing three charges of unwanted sexual touching, which stemmed from encounters that took place between 2018 and 2019.
He pleaded guilty to kissing a waitress at an Italian restaurant in September 2018, the other two charges – pinching a woman’s butt at a nightclub the next month and grabbing a woman’s breast at a rooftop bar in July 2019 – were dropped in accordance with the agreement.
Prosecutors had been planning to call all 20 of his female accusers as witnesses to demonstrate a pattern of abuse, but the judge only consented to allowing the three victims to testify.
Gooding told the judge that it was true that he “kissed the waitress on her lips” without consent. “I apologize for ever making anybody feel inappropriately touched,” he stated.
The “Men of Honor” star has also been accused of raping a woman twice in 2013 and is facing a $6 million civil lawsuit by his alleged victim. His lawyers asked a Manhattan federal judge to dismiss the case in January, due to his accuser’s nearly seven-year filing delay.
The woman said that she met Gooding with a friend at the Mercer hotel in SoHo, and went up to his room with him under the pretense that he needed to change his clothes, but he pushed her onto the bed and raped her despite her pleas for him to stop.