The Oscar-winning actor Cuba Gooding Jr has pleaded guilty to kissing a waitress without consent at a New York nightclub in 2018.
The 54-year-old is accused of violating three different women at various Manhattan night spots in 2018 and 2019, but his guilty plea covers only one of the allegations.
It comes nearly three years after the actor was arrested in the case that was delayed several times as his lawyers sought to get charges reduced or dismissed.
Gooding has now admitted to a judge he “kissed the waitress on her lips” without consent at the LAVO nightclub.
The actor’s plea deal calls for no jail time. He can also withdraw the misdemeanour plea and plead guilty to a lesser violation of harassment if he continues counselling for six months.
Gooding was arrested and pleaded not guilty in June 2019 after a 29-year-old woman told police he squeezed her breast without her consent at Magic Hour Rooftop Bar and Lounge near Times Square.
A few months later, he was charged in two additional cases when more women came forward to accuse him of abuse.
The new charges alleged he pinched a waitress’s buttocks after making a sexually suggestive remark to her at TAO Downtown and forcibly touched a woman inappropriately at the LAVO nightclub, both in 2018.
Gooding had previously pleaded not guilty to six misdemeanour counts and denied all allegations of wrongdoing.
Image: The actor was courtside at a basketball game in Miami in March
His lawyers have argued that prosecutors were caught up in the fervour of the #MeToo movement and were trying to turn “commonplace gestures” or misunderstandings into crimes.
The judge had ruled that if the case went to trial, prosecutors could have called two additional women to testify about their allegations that the actor also violated them.
Those women, whose claims did not result in criminal charges, were among 19 other accusers whom prosecutors were seeking to call as witnesses.
Along with the criminal case, Gooding is accused in a lawsuit of raping a woman in New York City in 2013.
After a judge issued a default judgment in July because Gooding hadn’t responded to the lawsuit, the actor hired a lawyer and is fighting the allegations.
Gooding won the Academy Award for best supporting actor for his role in Jerry Maguire in 1996.