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Cuba Gooding Jr. Avoids Jail in Sex Harassment Case

Cuba Gooding Jr.'s forcible touching case faded away with no jail time, but many of those that accused him of groping, unwanted kissing, and other inappropriate behavior criticized the outcome, the Associated Press reports. Gooding avoided prison time by complying with a conditional plea agreement that saw him plead guilty to charges involving one of 30 women that have reported allegations. Manhattan prosecutor Coleen Balbert told a judge Thursday that since the deal was reached in April, Gooding has stayed out of trouble and completed six months of counseling. This enabled him to withdraw his misdemeanor guilty plea, for forcibly kissing a waitress at a Manhattan nightclub in 2018. Instead, he pled guilty to a non-criminal harassment violation. “This plea deal feels like a misstep,” said Kelsey Harbert, a neuroscience student whose allegation that Gooding groped her at a nightclub led to his 2019 arrest but wasn’t part of his guilty plea. Harbert's lawyer called the plea deal "an insult" to Gooding's accusers. Balbert told Judge Curtis Farber that she has received positive reports for the last six months from Gooding's therapist. He started therapy in 2019 and will continue beyond the time required by his plea agreement, Balbert said.

Arrested in 2019, Gooding was among a group of Hollywood heavyweights accused of wrongdoing in the #MeToo Movement. During Gooding's court appearance Thursday, Oscar-winning actor Kevin Spacey was on trial nearby in a civil lawsuit alleging that he sexually assaulted actor Anthony Rapp. Harvey Weinstein was convicted of sex-assault charges in New York in 2020 and is serving a 23-year prison sentence. Gooding was arrested in June 2019 after Harbert told police he fondled a waitress without consent at a bar near Times Square. A few months later, Gooding was charged with another sexual harassment allegation to which he pleaded guilty. He not apologize to his accusers in court or answer shouted questions when he left the courtroom. Along with the criminal case, Gooding is a defendant in civil lawsuits, including one alleging that he raped a woman in New York City in 2013.


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