Last week, Cuba Gooding Jr. was supposed to stand trial for allegedly groping a 29-year-old woman’s breast at a bar in Times Square this past June. On Thursday,, Gooding reported for duty at the Manhattan Criminal Court, where he apparently sat for several minutes before learning that the trial would be delayed: A new charged had been filed against the 51-year-old actor, elevating his case to the level of the State Supreme Court.
The specifics of the new charge were revealed on Tuesday, when Gooding was arraigned and pleaded not guilty to the allegation that he had “pinched the buttocks” of a woman at a club in New York in October 2018, without her consent. (At the time, Gooding apparently insisted that he “had only pinched her back.”) But the real news revealed in the courtroom on Tuesday had much broader implications: The unsealed indictment also includes allegations that a dozen more women have made against Gooding. According to prosecutors, the women are also willing to testify against him in court.
At the moment, Gooding faces charges of third-degree sexual abuse and forcible touching, whose punishments aren’t exactly severe. (The maximum for forcible touching, which is the top charge, is a year in jail.) Still, Gooding’s lawyer, Mark J. Heller, is far from pleased: According to the New York Times, Heller has described the charges as “a distorted overreaction pandering to the current hypersensitive climate where innocent commonplace gestures are now misperceived and mischaracterized as offensive.”
To put things into perspective, Heller also compared his client, who made his breakthrough in Boyz n the Hood in 1991, and won an Oscar for his role in Jerry Maguire in 1997, to none other than former vice president Joe Biden. Biden, Heller asserted to reporters outside of the courthouse on Tuesday, has been unfairly subjected to an “incredible condemnation” for simply touching “a woman’s shoulder.”