Pop Culture

Cuba Gooding Jr. faces new sexual assault lawsuits

Cuba Gooding Jr. was sued on Wednesday by two women whose sexual assault cases against the Oscar-winning actor underlay a criminal prosecution that ended with him pleading guilty but serving no jail time.

In a complaint filed in a New York state court in Manhattan, Jasmine Abbay said the Jerry Maguire star forcibly kissed her without her consent in September 2018, while she was working as a cocktail waitress at the LAVO nightclub in midtown Manhattan.

The other plaintiff, Kelsey Harbert, accused Gooding of groping her breast in June 2019 at the Magic Hour rooftop bar, also in midtown.


Kelsey Harbert, centre, sexual assault victim of Cuba Gooding Jr., and her lawyer Gloria Allred, left, leave Manhattan Criminal Court, Thursday, Oct. 13, 2022, in New York.


AP Photo/Yuki Iwamura

Lawyers who have represented Gooding in civil and criminal litigation over his alleged sexual misconduct did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

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“Our clients were deprived of the justice they sought in the criminal case,” Gloria Allred, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, said in a statement. “They are now seeking justice and accountability in their civil cases.”

Abbay and Harbert are seeking unspecified damages for assault and battery under the Adult Survivors Act, a special New York state law letting women sue their alleged abusers even if statutes of limitations have run out.

The law expires after the U.S. Thanksgiving Day holiday, on Nov. 24.

Others sued under the law include actors Russell Brand and Bill Cosby, former movie producer Harvey Weinstein, former president Donald Trump, and hip-hop mogul Sean “Diddy” Combs, whose case settled after one day.

Axl Rose, the former lead singer of Guns N’ Roses, was sued under the law on Wednesday by Sheila Kennedy, an actor and former Penthouse Pet of the Year, over an alleged 1989 assault.

Gooding won an Academy Award in 1997 for best supporting actor in Jerry Maguire.

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He pleaded guilty in April 2022 to a misdemeanour charge of forcibly touching Abbay, who was not identified by name at the time but revealed her identity in her lawsuit.

The charge was downgraded six months later to harassment, to which Gooding pleaded guilty after complying with a plea agreement that required alcohol and behaviour modification treatment and no further arrests.

Accusations by Abbay, Harbert and a third woman were the basis for a six-count indictment against Gooding, which his guilty plea resolved.

Harbert at the time expressed outrage she could not hold him accountable in court for the “irreparable damage” he caused.

In June, Gooding settled a civil lawsuit in Manhattan federal court, moments before trial, by a woman who accused him of a 2013 rape. Terms were not disclosed. The woman had sought $6 million.

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