NEW YORK — Actor Cuba Gooding Jr.’s rape trial is set to begin Tuesday in federal court in Manhattan.
Three women who claim Cuba Gooding Jr. sexually abused them – including one upset she never got her day in court when Gooding resolved criminal charges without trial or jail – can testify at the federal civil trial to support a woman’s claim that the actor raped her in 2013, a judge ruled Friday.
Judge Paul A. Crotty said the allegations by the women were relevant for a jury deciding if the Oscar-winning “Jerry Maguire” star raped a woman in a Manhattan hotel room after they met at a bar. He also ruled in a separate order that the plaintiff, identified only as Jane Doe in the lawsuit seeking $6 million in damages, must reveal her name at trial.
He said the claims by the three women who can testify “are sufficiently similar” to the claims at stake in the trial because “all involve sudden sexual assaults or attempted sexual assaults” connected to Gooding and stemmed from the presence of the women and Gooding in social settings such as festivals, bars, nightclubs and restaurants.
Lawyers for Gooding, a #MeToo defendant in multiple courts, have said Gooding had consensual sex with the woman who accused him of rape after they met in the VIP lounge of a Greenwich Village restaurant and she joined him at a nearby hotel bar, agreeing to proceed to his hotel room so the actor could change his clothing. The lawyers did not respond to an email request for comment Friday.
Gooding, a star in films including “Boyz n the Hood” and “Radio,” was permitted to plead guilty in April 2022 to a misdemeanor, admitting that he forcibly kissed a worker at a New York nightclub in 2018.
After staying out of trouble and completing six months of alcohol and behavioral counseling, Gooding was permitted to withdraw his guilty plea and instead pleaded guilty to a non-criminal harassment violation, eliminating his criminal record and preventing further penalties.
The deal was criticized by some of at least 30 women who prosecutors say have made sexual misconduct allegations against him, many citing encounters at New York City nightspots that resulted in groping, unwanted kissing and other inappropriate behavior.
Attorney Gloria Allred, who represents the plaintiff, declined to comment except to say that her client will be going forward with the trial on Tuesday.
Prospects for a settlement, which sometimes occur in civil cases on the eve of trial, seemed dim at a pretrial conference Thursday as trial attorneys were in such sharp disagreement that the judge warned in ruling Friday that “counsel will act with the utmost courtesy and professionalism towards one another and the Court going forward.”
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