Cuba Gooding Jr., the actor who had been accused by more than 20 women of groping or forcibly kissing them in encounters that dated back more than two decades, will plead guilty to one count of forcible touching, a Manhattan prosecutor said in court on Wednesday.
Mr. Gooding had faced a criminal trial on charges of unwanted sexual touching of three women in Manhattan restaurants and nightclubs in 2018 and 2019. The Manhattan district attorney’s office had asked a judge to admit as witnesses 19 other women who it said had come forward to accuse Mr. Gooding of such conduct.
Mr. Gooding’s “prior acts demonstrate that his contacts with their intimate parts are intentional, not accidental, and that he is not mistaken about their lack of consent,” the district attorney’s office wrote in a court filing in October 2019.
The judge ultimately ruled that two of the additional accusers could testify against Mr. Gooding at trial, which would have allowed prosecutors to argue in court that Mr. Gooding had exhibited similar conduct for years.
Mr. Gooding appeared before the judge, Curtis Farber of State Supreme Court in Manhattan, to enter his plea and is likely to speak briefly in court to explain why he is pleading guilty. The judge would then have to accept the plea.
Mr. Gooding was originally charged in connection with an encounter on the night of June 9, 2019, during a party at the Magic Hour Rooftop Bar, an expensive lounge at the Moxy NYC Times Square hotel in Manhattan. The accuser said that Mr. Gooding placed his hand on her breast without her consent and squeezed, according to a criminal complaint.
He was later charged with pinching a woman’s bottom at a Manhattan nightclub in October 2018 and in a September 2018 incident at Lavo, an Italian restaurant on East 58th Street.
Mr. Gooding, a Bronx native, had his first major success playing the lead role in the 1991 film “Boyz n the Hood,” and he won an Academy Award in 1987 for his supporting role in “Jerry Maguire.” He played O.J. Simpson in the 2016 television series “The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story.”