The Sexual Misconduct Allegations Against Cuba Gooding Jr. Explained

The following article includes allegations of sexual assault.

Cuba Gooding Jr. appeared to be on top of the world when he won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his role in Jerry Maguire back in 1997, but his career pretty much died after he won that Oscar and it hasn’t quite recovered. While promoting his directorial debut, Louisiana Caviar, in 2018, Gooding told news.com.au that his slew of flops were “utter trash,” and reminisced, “After I won the Oscar, it was a year before I worked. I did What Dreams May Come with my love Robin Williams — and then I was banished to the wilderness to do direct-to-video/DVD/Blockbuster movies.” Explaining the reason behind his downfall, he said, “I was told by [Jerry Maguire director] Cameron Crowe, ‘Your job is only to work with great directors,’ and I didn’t listen. It didn’t resonate with me, so I said ‘no’ to Amistad, I said ‘no’ to Hotel Rwanda and the list goes on and on and on,” he revealed, adding, “Finally, directors were probably afraid to offer me anything.”

While he made somewhat of a comeback playing O.J. Simpson in The People v. O. J. Simpson: American Crime Story in 2016, Gooding’s shady side quickly stripped away much of that success as well. Accusations of sexual misconduct have been mounting against Cuba Gooding Jr. for years and, as it turns out, his alleged penchant for harassment and inappropriate behavior goes back over a decade. Here are all of the sexual misconduct allegations against Cuba Gooding Jr. explained.

Cuba Gooding Jr.'s reportedly 'uncomfortable' behavior in 2016

Cuba Gooding Jr.’s questionable behavior around women was first reported on back in March 2016 when Page Six dubbed him “a shirtless mess” during a weekend escapade to Miami. The actor was spotted club hopping and according to sources, his actions were apparently truly cringe-worthy. One alleged onlooker claimed to the outlet that Gooding was “a mess” as he started the night at a club called Story where he “hopped on stage shirtless during DJ Kaskade’s set and started spraying the crowd with a CO2 cannon.” He then “ripped off his shirt and hopped on top of the DJ booth and went crazy.” The Jerry Maguire star then reportedly moved on to another club called LIV where a source claimed he got “beyond frisky with girls” and was allegedly “handing his room key to girls and telling them to meet him upstairs.”

A video posted to Instagram appears to show Gooding at LIV, his shirt around his head as he lifts a girl up and then appears to drop her and shrug it off. According to Page Six, the actor reportedly also “pulled his pants down” at one point, and the partying behavior didn’t stop once he left the clubs. Rather, while relaxing at his hotel, Fontainebleau, his poolside manner also made waves. One woman alleged to the mag, “He kept grabbing beers and kissing my sunburn. It was really uncomfortable.”

In 2017, Cuba Gooding Jr. got handsy with Sarah Paulson

It was March 2017 when an American Horror Story: Roanoke panel at PaleyFest in L.A. quickly turned inappropriate because Cuba Gooding Jr. got handsy with co-star Sarah Paulson. The eyebrow-raising behavior began when Paulson appeared on-stage and walked over to sit in an empty chair next to Gooding’s. In a video shared by Entertainment Tonight, the actor, who was already seated, high-fives Paulson then leans over and tries to grab the slit at the front of her dress. Paulson can be seen slapping his hands away, but Gooding pressed on. As Digital Spy reported, when Paulson stood up to greet Kathy Bates, Gooding reached for her dress again. This time, he attempted to pull up the back of the skirt. As the outlet noted, Paulson appeared to be oblivious to what was happening, but “shrieked” and pulled down her dress as soon as she realized. 

Reaction on Twitter was swift and unforgiving with one fan asking, “Does he seriously think this is okay?” while another wrote, “Hi, dude. Did you apologize to Sarah? You should if you didn’t [because] what you did was gross and disrespectful.” Yet another slammed, per The Hollywood Reporter, “How would @cubagoodingjr react if a man walked up to his daughter, Piper and lifted her dress up behind her back? #itsneverok.” Speaking with People, Gooding called the internet a “beast” and maintained the incident “was taken out to represent some kind of sexual misconduct” which “wasn’t [his] intent.”

Cuba Gooding Jr. was arrested for forcible touching in 2019

On June 10, 2019, Cuba Gooding Jr. was accused by a 30-year-old woman of grabbing her breast “while they were socializing” at the Magic Hour Rooftop Bar and Lounge in Manhattan, per Page Six. According to the outlet, the woman (who chose to remain anonymous) told NYPD officers that the actor was “highly intoxicated” and that when she reprimanded his behavior, “she got into an argument with him that had to be broken up by security.” Gooding denied the allegation, telling TMZ, “I trust the system, let the process speak for itself. There’s a tape that shows what really happened.”

Despite his confidence, however, the actor turned himself in on June 13, per Page Six, and after being questioned by detectives from Manhattan’s Special Victims Division, he was arrested and charged with one count of misdemeanor forcible touching. As USA Today reported, Gooding pleaded not guilty and was released without bail to await trial. USA Today also noted that his girlfriend, Claudine De Niro, came forward to claim she was sitting between Gooding and his accuser at the bar and that nothing inappropriate happened. Meanwhile, the actor’s lawyer Mark J. Heller told Page Six that “an extensive review of the available video taken that evening reveals that there was absolutely no criminal conduct and inappropriate conduct on the part of Cuba Gooding Jr., and it completely exonerates him from any criminal conduct.”

Following groping charges, Cuba Gooding Jr. hit the town

Shortly after Cuba Gooding Jr. was charged with one count of misdemeanor forcible touching for allegedly groping a woman’s breast at the Magic Hour Rooftop Bar and Lounge in Manhattan, the actor was reportedly caught making light of the accusation. As one source told Page Six in June 2019, the Boyz n the Hood star was drinking at the Bowery Hotel when he was allegedly overheard telling a friend that “the woman fabricated the whole thing and that the truth would come out. It was bizarre that he was in the main lounge of the hotel and he was talking about it.” The outlet’s source went on to add, “He was making jokes and asking his friend if there were security cameras.”

According to the eyewitness, the pair had “several drinks” and Gooding “kept checking his phone because they were waiting for a friend, but he really wanted to go out.” While some questioned the actor’s decision to continue partying amidst his pending court case, his lawyer Mark J. Heller told the mag that his client’s “confidence in the legal system and his legal representation has freed him from the anxiety that usually causes defendants in his situation to recoil from society.” He added, “As you have noted, Mr. Gooding continues to appropriately interact and socialize as he normally does.”

Groping charges against Cuba Gooding Jr. tripled by October 2019

In June 2019, Cuba Gooding Jr.’s lawyer Mark Heller filed a motion to dismiss the allegations against his client by trying to discredit the victim’s account, saying, per USA Today, that he “watched the entire two and half hours of video and it shows Cuba being stalked by this lady – she’s following him around.” But the charges weren’t dropped — in fact, they soon tripled.

In October 2019, Gooding was arraigned on new charges of sex abuse after two additional women came forward to accuse the actor of inappropriate touching. As Page Six reported, Natasha Ashworth, a server at TAO Downtown Nightclub in New York, claimed Gooding touched her behind in October 2018, while an unnamed woman accused him of “sexual contact without consent” at LAVO nightclub in Manhattan in September 2018. Gooding pleaded not guilty to six misdemeanor counts of forcible touching and sex abuse. Yet another unnamed woman who alleged Gooding “groped her in an incident that occurred more than a decade ago” at a restaurant in Manhattan, but failed to bring additional charges due to the statute of limitations, per Page Six.

Following multiple pandemic delays, Gooding was back in court in August 2020, but as of March 2021, he was still awaiting a verdict.

Cuba Gooding Jr. was sued for inappropriate behavior

In October 2019, Natasha Ashworth (who accused Cuba Gooding Jr. of touching her behind at Tao Downtown Nightclub) filed a lawsuit in Manhattan Supreme Court claiming, per Page Six, that Gooding’s unwanted advances began with him asking, “Do you want to see my impression of a penis?” When she declined, he went ahead with the joke anyway, taking a sip of water and spitting it out. The filing also claims that once Ashworth finished her shift, he approached her again and “using his right hand, reached to pinch Plaintiff on her right buttocks.” When she said “Don’t touch my butt,” he allegedly answered, “Aw, that’s no fun. And I didn’t, I touched your back.” The claim states that when security stepped in to escort Gooding out, he snapped, “Oh, you don’t have to worry, because I am never coming back here again.”

That same month, TMZ learned that the actor had been investigated on similar grounds “sometime in the past year” for allegedly grabbing a woman’s behind during a party in L.A. The incident was reported to police but dismissed for lack of evidence. As for Ashworth’s claims, Gooding’s lawyer, Mark J. Heller, told Page Six, “We can only assume she is looking for notoriety. It is rumored she is an aspiring actress.” He and Gooding failed to officially respond to the lawsuit, however, and Ashworth’s lawyer asked for a default judgment in his client’s favor in January 2021, per Page Six.

A sexual assault lawsuit was filed against Cuba Gooding Jr.

In August 2020, Cuba Gooding Jr. was hit with yet another lawsuit when an anonymous woman calling herself Jane Doe came forward to claim that the Coming to America actor raped her in 2013. According to the lawsuit, filed in Manhattan Federal Court and seen by Vulture, they met in the VIP section of a Greenwich Village restaurant in August 2013. Doe said Gooding invited her and her friend for drinks at the Mercer Hotel, and she went with Gooding in a cab while her friend planned to meet them there. 

Once they arrived at the hotel, the lawsuit claims that he asked her upstairs to his room so he could change clothes, but once inside, he undressed, then “blocked her from the door and pushed her onto the bed.” As Vulture noted, he reportedly “forcibly and without consent” reached under her clothing. Doe said she told him no and “tried to push his hands away,” but Gooding allegedly “ignored her,” becoming “physically aggressive” and raping her twice.

Gooding’s attorney Mark Heller responded by denying the claims, per CBC, saying that the “alleged event never took place” and that “she’s probably just somebody who’s looking for some glory to bask in the publicity and notoriety of Cuba Gooding Jr.’s case.”

More than 30 women have spoken out against Cuba Gooding Jr.

Cuba Gooding Jr. may have pleaded not guilty to three counts of forcible touching and three counts of sex abuse to the third degree, per CNN, but the number of women speaking out against the actor has continued to grow.

By December 2019, at least 15 women had accused him of sexual misconduct, per CNN, and by August 2020, that number had surpassed 30. According to the outlet, the incidents in question took place between 2003 and 2016 and spanned the country, including alleged incidents in Los Angeles, Malibu, New York, Atlanta, San Francisco, and Park City. The unnamed victims accused Gooding of “non-consensual touching, grabbing, groping, kissing, licking and threats of professional sabotage,” including one woman who alleges the actor forced his hand inside her pants in an Atlanta restaurant in 2011 and responded to her resistance with a threat: “I know you want to be an actress; I can ruin you,” he allegedly said.

While Gooding was not charged in connection with any of the new accusations, prosecutors in the groping case said they planned to use the mounting allegations to show Gooding has a habit of “degrading and abusing” women “for the purpose of gratifying his own sexual desire,” per CNN. Meanwhile, his lawyer Mark Heller said Gooding denies the claims, adding, “Unfortunately, people come out of the woodwork, making false allegations against Cuba, as often times happens when a celebrity is accused by the district attorney’s office in a public forum.”

If you or someone you know has been the victim of sexual assault, you can call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673) or visit RAINN.org for additional resources.

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