NEW YORK — Cuba Gooding Jr. goes on trial in New York City Tuesday, accused of raping a woman he met at a bar in 2013 and facing a potential payout in the millions after narrowly dodging a criminal conviction last year.
The “Jerry Maguire” actor’s Manhattan civil case comes to a head after he avoided a rap sheet in his criminal one last year. That ended in October with what many of his accusers lamented was a slap on the wrist for forcibly kissing and groping a string of women. At least 30 women have accused Gooding of sexual misconduct ranging from groping to rape and sexual assault.
The woman who filed suit against Gooding in Manhattan federal court in August 2020 says he sexually assaulted and raped her at the Mercer Hotel after meeting in a Greenwich Village restaurant’s VIP lounge. Gooding, 55, denies the rape allegations, contending the encounter was consensual and that his accuser is lying.
She alleges Gooding invited her back to his hotel for drinks and, once there, asked her to join him in his room while he changed quickly. In the room, the woman claims Gooding stripped nude and refused to let her leave.
The suit accuses Gooding of ignoring the woman when she insisted she wasn’t interested and forcibly groping her. She alleges Gooding pushed her onto the bed, “aggressively removed” her underwear, and raped her without a condom. The woman alleges Gooding then raped her a second time.
Judge Paul Crotty will allow three additional women who have accused Gooding of sexual abuse to testify at the trial, according to an order he issued Friday. The judge found there was enough similarities between their accounts and Doe’s to warrant their testimony, noting “all involve sudden sexual assaults or attempted sexual assaults.”
The woman who brought the suit, who has been identified in court papers as Jane Doe throughout the litigation, must reveal her name the night before trial, Crotty also ruled Friday.
“When a plaintiff proceeds under a pseudonym, the Court risks ‘giving [her] claim greater stature or dignity or otherwise confusing or distracting the jury,’” the judge wrote, citing precedent.
Reached for comment, Doe’s attorney Gloria Allred said, “She will proceed to trial.”
Gooding’s lawyers did not return calls seeking comment.
The woman had asked to remain anonymous in light of threats made by Gooding’s now-disbarred former lawyer Mark Heller, who previously pledged to pursue criminal charges against Gooding’s numerous accusers, among other reasons.
Gooding’s lawyers claim they have evidence Doe “bragged” about sleeping with him to bar staff after the alleged assault. But at the final pretrial hearing Thursday, they said they had been unable to contact either alleged witness.
Doe claims that she left the scene of the alleged assault once Gooding fell asleep and met with a friend. Her suit was brought under New York’s Gender-Motivated Protection Law. It demands $2 million in compensatory damages and $4 million in punitive damages.
In a separate case, a woman who accused Gooding of pinching her backside while she was working at a restaurant won her Manhattan Supreme Court lawsuit against him in June 2021 when he refused to acknowledge the litigation.
In his Manhattan criminal case, Gooding was allowed to withdraw his previous guilty plea to forcible touching, a misdemeanor, and plead down to a harassment violation, on account of going to therapy and not getting arrested. His plea deal required him to admit to forcibly kissing a woman at a Manhattan nightclub in September 2018 and subjecting two other women to “non-consensual physical contact.” He was also required to say sorry on the court record.
“I apologize for making anybody ever feel inappropriately touched, anyone,” Gooding said in April 2022. “I am a celebrity figure. I come into contact with people. I never want to them to feel slighted or uncomfortable in any way.”
At one stage, the Manhattan DA was in contact with at least 22 women who claimed they had been forcibly kissed, groped, sexually abused, and threatened with professional ruin by the Oscar-winning actor.
According to court records, one of those women, who was also a waitress, would have testified that Gooding told her, “I can ruin you” when she recoiled from him sliding his hand down the back of her pants in 2011 at a restaurant in Georgia.