Oscar winner Cuba Gooding Jr.'s sexual misconduct case raged on Thursday as the actor appeared in Manhattan court for a third time this year. He pleaded not guilty to sexual misconduct charges linked to accusations by a third woman.
New York prosecutors issued a superseding indictment on Thursday that includes an additional charge of forcible touching and another charge of sexual abuse in the third degree, both related to an alleged September 2018 incident.
The indictment, which replaces the one from Oct. 15, brings the “Jerry Maguire” star’s chargeable-offense tally in the case to six.
Prosecutors claim that on or about Sept. 9, 2018, at the Lavo nightclub in New York, the 51-year-old actor “intentionally, and for no legitimate purpose, forcibly touched the sexual and other intimate parts” of the accuser for “the purpose of degrading and abusing such person, and for the purpose of gratifying the defendant’s sexual desire,” according to the grand jury indictment, obtained by The Times on Thursday.
No additional details about the incident were made available — a fact that infuriated Gooding’s attorney Mark J. Heller, who believes his client has become the victim of malicious prosecution.
“We have no idea [what the incident is],” Heller told The Times after the arraignment. “They give no details because clearly there are no details.”
“The indictment which was unsealed today was defective — it failed to state specifically what conduct he was being charged with or the specific time and place, and we apprised the court of its defectiveness to have it dismissed,” Heller said.
The superseding indictment came just after TMZ published surveillance footage from a separate October 2018 encounter that appeared to show the actor making contact with the backside of a server at TAO nightclub. That incident was included in the previous indictment, which also charged the actor for a summer 2019 incident and catalyzed the misconduct case.
According to Asst. District Attorney Jenna Long, that footage was leaked inappropriately in an effort to manipulate the jury pool.
“As we’ve noted in the voluntary disclosure form, we are still working on redacting the victims’ faces from video of the 2018 incidents,” Long said in a statement. “We’ve provided defense counsel a short clip from one of the incidents and, within 24 hours, that video had been released to the media. We feel that the release is inappropriate and an effort to taint the jury pool. The video released was also incomplete and only shows conduct from immediately after the charged incident.”
Gooding’s attorney disagreed with that characterization.
“The video clearly does not reveal a scintilla of criminal conduct on Cuba’s part and it seems that with each new accuser, this one being the third, the conduct is more and more exculpatory of any criminology on Cuba’s part,” Heller said.
Earlier this month, prosecutors said that 12 women additional women had accused Gooding of sexual misconduct, including forcibly touching them without their consent at restaurants and clubs across the country, with allegations dating from 2001 to 2018.
Heller compared those women to “splinters” coming out of the woodwork to attach themselves to a celebrity.
“None of those splinters will form a plank leading to his conviction because none of them have veracity,” he said.
Gooding’s next court date has been set for Jan. 22.