An isolated case of inappropriate sexual touching may not carry a high criminal consequence. But often, these criminal charges are a glimpse into a pattern of sexual assault against a number of victims. That appears to be the case for actor Cuba Gooding Jr., whose criminal trial was delayed when more sexual assault charges came to light. Find out what victims can do to stop these patterns before they become even more serious.
Cuba Gooding Jr. is best known as an Oscar-winning actor with roles in everything from Jerry Maguire to Radio. But in June 2019, Mr. Gooding added a New York criminal court to his list of appearances. The actor was charged with sexual abuse and forcible touching in the third degree. This is a misdemeanor with a maximum penalty of one year in jail.
Prosecutors in the case said that on Sunday June 16, 2019, Mr. Gooding groped a woman’s breast at the Magic Hour Rooftop Bar at the Moxy NYC Times Square hotel in Manhattan. The victim in the case was a student at New York University. Gooding denied the allegations and was scheduled to appear for trial in October 2019.
What started out as a one-time incident quickly appeared to be part of a pattern of sexual assault. Even back in June, the police in the case said they were investigating a second groping allegation from years earlier. The victim in that case came forward after she saw news reports about the first charges. There was some question at the time as to whether the secondary claims were too old to go to court, but it seems the prosecutors found a way to make the charges stick.
On Thursday, October 10, 2019, the state prosecutors announced that a new charge had been filed. This new charge delayed Gooding’s trial on the June 2019 incident, and moved the case from Criminal Court to State Supreme Court. This is a higher-level court reserved for higher severity crimes, suggesting that Gooding’s pattern of sexual assault may have included more severe forms of misconduct.
Mr. Gooding’s attorneys have fought hard against the sexual assault charges. Even though the prosecutors were able to present a video of the incident, Gooding’s legal team has said it never happened. They presented two witnesses who say they were there and didn’t see it, and have even claimed that the victim “is predisposed to make false allegations against the defendant.” To paraphrase: “It didn’t happen. She’s lying.”
These strategies of denial and victim blaming are all too common in sexual assault cases. Defendants will often try to point to the victim’s own behavior or personality to explain what they want the jury to believe happened. While these tactics can sometimes be convincing in “he-said, she-said” cases, they don’t work as well when victims work together to show a pattern of sexual assault by the same person.
That may be why Gooding’s legal team was quick to deny the secondary charges as a stalling tactic. Sexual assault victims find strength in numbers when they come together to show how the same person has taken advantage of several people in similar ways. Whether they are calling out sexual harassment in the workplace, or casting light on a long-hidden pattern of sexual abuse, these sexual assault survivors can help lift each other up and shore up weaknesses in one another’s case.
At Eisenberg & Baum, LLP, our sexual abuse attorneys know how to establish and prove patterns of sexual abuse. We work with our clients to get their stories heard and identify others who faced the same treatment. If you or someone you know has been the victim of sexual abuse, contact us today to schedule a free consultation.