Gooding Jr. pleaded guilty on Wednesday, April 13 to a misdemeanor count of forcibly touching a woman at a New York nightclub in 2018, as part of an agreement with prosecutors that spares the Oscar-winning actor any immediate jail time.
The guilty plea, in which Gooding also admitted in court to subjecting two other women to “non-consensual physical contact” in 2018 and 2019, came three years after he was arrested, the Manhattan district attorney’s office said in a statement.
Under the plea agreement, if the 54-year-old Gooding continues to undergo court-ordered counseling for six months, he can withdraw his misdemeanor plea and plead guilty to a lesser violation of harassment.
If he fails to comply, he faces up to one year in jail.
The actor had been accused of violating three different women at various Manhattan night spots in 2018 and 2019.
He pleaded guilty to the most serious count charging him with forcibly kissing a woman at a nightclub in September 2018, a district attorney spokesperson said.
“I apologize for ever making anybody feel inappropriately touched,” the New York Times quoted Gooding as saying in court when entering his guilty plea.
A representative and a lawyer for the actor could not immediately be reached for comment.
Gooding won the Academy Award as Best Supporting Actor for his role in the 1996 romantic comedy Jerry Maguire as a volatile football player who becomes his sports agent’s only client, demanding that Tom Cruise “show me the money.”
Two decades later, Gooding portrayed O.J. Simpson in the television miniseries The People v. O.J. Simpson.
Hours after the plea, a Manhattan federal judge rejected Gooding’s bid to dismiss a $6 million civil lawsuit by a woman who said Gooding raped her twice in 2013 at the Mercer hotel in Manhattan’s SoHo district.
US District Judge Paul Crotty said the woman didn’t take too long to sue by waiting until 2020 to invoke a New York City law protecting victims of gender-motivated violence.
Gooding said a different law with a one-year statute of limitations should have applied. He has denied his accuser’s allegations. – Rappler.com