Oscar winner Cuba Gooding Jr. settles civil sex abuse case, averting trial
NEW YORK (AP) — Just as a trial was to begin, it was revealed Tuesday that Cuba Gooding Jr. has settled accusations that he raped a woman in a New York City hotel a decade ago, according to court records. The actor had insisted through lawyers that his encounter with the woman was consensual after the two met at a nearby restaurant.
The trial was to start with jury selection in New York federal court as the Oscar-winning “Jerry Maguire” star faced allegations that he met the woman in Manhattan, persuaded her to join him at a hotel, and convinced her to stop at his room so he could change clothing.
Minutes after jurors were to begin assembling in a courtroom, a calendar entry in the official court record said: “TRIAL OFF.” It added: “Reason for cancellation (on consent): the parties have resolved the matter.”
The woman had proceeded anonymously until last week, when Judge Paul A. Crotty ruled that she would have to reveal her name at trial. She said in her lawsuit that Gooding raped her in his room. His lawyers, though, insisted that it was consensual sex and that she bragged afterward to others that she had sex with a celebrity.
The lawsuit sought $6 million in damages. Attorney Gloria Allred, one of several representing the woman, declined comment. Other lawyers, including those representing Gooding, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
The lawsuit was filed against a man who authorities say has been accused of committing sexual misconduct against more than 30 other women, including groping, unwanted kissing and other inappropriate behavior.
Late last week, the judge seemed to strengthen the woman’s hand at trial and in settlement negotiations by ruling that he would let three women testify that they also were subjected to sudden sexual assaults or attempted sexual assaults after meeting Gooding in social settings such as festivals, bars, nightclubs and restaurants.
One of the women who had planned to testify at the trial was Kelsey Harbert, who told police Gooding fondled her without her consent at Magic Hour Rooftop Bar & Lounge near Times Square in 2019.
Harbert said last year after Gooding pleaded guilty in New York state court to a charge that spared him from jail or a criminal history that never getting her day in court was “more disappointing than words can say.”
The Associated Press does not typically identify people who say they have been sexually assaulted unless they grant permission, as Harbert has done.
Gooding, a star in films including “Boyz n the Hood” and “Radio,” was permitted to plead guilty in April 2022 to a misdemeanor, admitting that he forcibly kissed a worker at a New York nightclub in 2018.
By staying out of trouble and completing six months of alcohol and behavioral counseling, Gooding was permitted to withdraw his guilty plea and plead guilty to a non-criminal harassment violation, eliminating his criminal record and preventing further penalties.
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