Cuba Gooding Jr. appears in NY courtroom
The misdemeanor groping case against Oscar-winning actor Cuba Gooding Jr. entered a new phase of confusion Monday, with conflicting claims over how many women have accused him and even what time his arraignment is scheduled for on Tuesday.
Gooding, 51, who was charged in June with grabbing the breast of a woman in a Manhattan rooftop bar, is scheduled to be arraigned again after he was indicted last week on the original charge, plus a new and separate misdemeanor sex crime involving a different accuser.
The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office sent an email Monday to USA TODAY saying the arraignment would take place Tuesday afternoon.
Cuba Gooding Jr., (C) with his lawyers arrive at court for proceeding in his groping case, Oct. 10, 2019, in New York. (Photo: JOHANNES EISELE/ AFP via Getty Images)
But Mark Heller, one of Gooding’s defense lawyers, told USA TODAY the arraignment is actually set for 9.30 a.m.
Responding to reports three more women have come forward to police, Heller said he doesn’t believe there are other accusers with credible allegations, nor could prosecutors simply add such allegations to the tally against Gooding at an arraignment.
“They can’t simply add, it has to be taken to a grand jury, and if they didn’t do it now it’s not likely they’ll do it again,” Heller said. “These ‘other’ cases, the district attorney did not have the confidence or the evidence that they are prosecutable and that’s why they were not (included) in the indictment.”
Casey Murphy, a spokesperson for the district attorney’s office, declined to comment on whether there are new accusers.
Neither prosecutors nor Heller have identified either the original accuser or the second accuser by name, nor did they offer details of the second accuser’s allegation. The indictment was sealed last week and is to be unsealed Tuesday.
But Heller claimed the second accuser approached Gooding through his lawyers after he was arrested in June, and sought money from him in connection with an encounter that happened in 2018.
“There is one individual, over and above the initial complainant, that pressed a claim against Cuba after he was arrested,” Heller said. “He declined to be shaken down because the conduct (she alleges) did not constitute inappropriate action on his part.
He said Gooding intends to plead not guilty and to seek two separate trials on the two accusations. Heller, who has accused prosecutors of delaying tactics, said he also will demand the trial on the original charge start immediately.
“I’m confident this second misdemeanor added to the original case will be dismissed (eventually),” Heller said.
In the original case, Gooding has been charged with groping the breast of a woman who sat down next to him and his girlfriend in the Magic Hour Rooftop Bar and Lounge in midtown Manhattan on June 9.
Besides the testimony of the accuser, prosecutors have access to surveillance video inside the bar on the night in question, although the defense argues the video is too blurry to show clearly what, if anything, happened.
Also, witnesses, including Gooding’s girlfriend, Claudine De Niro, who was sitting between Gooding and the accuser, deny that Gooding groped her.
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