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Prosecutors want 12 Cuba Gooding Jr. accusers to testify at sexual misconduct trial

Cuba Gooding Jr. is now facing criminal charges over allegedly groping two women and prosecutors are asking a judge to allow the testimony of 12 additional accusers as they seek to prove Gooding routinely groped women at bars or clubs without their consent. Prosecutors outlined the accounts of the additional accusers in court documents Tuesday.

The 51-year-old "Jerry Maguire" actor was already charged in one of the two incidents, when he was accused of groping a woman's breast at a New York City bar June 9. The woman told police she believed Gooding was intoxicated. Gooding has pleaded not guilty.

The defense claimed there are two witnesses who said the incident never happened. They also claimed that a bar video backs up that claim.

"There is not the slightest scintilla of inappropriate conduct on his part," his lawyer, Mark Heller, said.

A new grand jury indictment charges Gooding with forcible touching and third-degree sexual abuse in the June 9 incident and with the same counts in an incident dating back to October 24, 2018. Gooding allegedly pinched another woman's buttocks without her consent at a downtown Manhattan nightclub. Prosecutors said he made a sexually suggestive remark to the woman earlier in the evening.

Gooding appeared before a Manhattan judge and was released on his own recognizance.

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Cuba Gooding Jr. appears in court to face new sexual misconduct charges, Tuesday, Oct. 15, 2019, in New York. The actor pleaded not guilty. Alec Tabak/New York Daily News Pool via AP

Gooding is not charged with the allegations from the 12 other women, but a state law allows prosecutors to ask a judge to introduce their accounts before a jury "to demonstrate that the defendant's conduct is not accidental" and may be "part of a 'common scheme or plan,'" according to court filings.

The incidents range from 2001 to 2018 and all involve allegations of Gooding inappropriately touching women at bars, hotels or restaurants. The Manhattan District Attorney's office said several of the alleged incidents happened in New York or the Los Angeles area. Others are said to have occurred in Las Vegas, Nevada, Dallas, Texas and Albuquerque, New Mexico.

They include an alleged 2006 incident at a Hollywood bar in which Gooding is accused of approaching a woman with whom he had no prior interaction, biting her on her shoulder, thrusting against her and attempting to lift up her shirt.

In another incident in 2003 at a restaurant in Long Beach, California, Gooding allegedly groped the buttocks of a woman as he was posing for a picture with her and her friends, and told her, "You've got a good piece of a**."

In one of the incidents described by prosecutors, at the W Hotel in Los Angeles in 2001, a woman said Gooding approached her from behind, rubbed his groin and pelvis against her buttocks and then grabbed her buttocks and breast with her hand. The woman said she hadn't talked to Gooding prior to that.

In another incident at a Los Angeles bar in 2011, another woman who didn't know Gooding said he grabbed her by the arm as she walked to the bathroom, reached inside her blouse, squeezed her bare breast and told her a sexual maneuver that he wanted her to perform.

One accuser confronted Gooding over his alleged behavior, punching him in the neck or chest and yelling at him when she happened to see him months after he allegedly reached under her skirt and touched her genitals through her undergarments without consent at a Malibu, California bar.

Prosecutors allege in court documents the women's accounts show Gooding "routinely approaches women while at bars or nightclubs with whom he has had limited or no prior interaction and touches them inappropriately." 

"Looking at these instances, it is clear that the defendant's actions are intentional, rather than accidental, that he does not mistakenly believe the acts are consensual and that they are done for the purpose of gratifying his own sexual desire, as well as for the purpose of degrading and abusing the women he has targeted," prosecutors said in a court filing.

Heller, Gooding's lawyer, claimed the case against his client is an example of the #MeToo movement run amok and that overzealous prosecutors are looking to turn "commonplace gestures" into crimes.

The new criminal allegation, Heller said, is the result of a failed shakedown attempt in which the accuser approached Gooding for a confidential settlement after his arrest and then went to the authorities only after he refused to pay up. 

"We are shocked, outraged and absolutely dumbfounded that the district attorney's office has wasted the taxpayers' money, resources and time in charging Cuba with these two incredulous cases," Heller told reporters outside the courthouse. 

The Manhattan District Attorney's office declined to comment.

A judge will determine in December whether the women's testimony is admissible, after the defense has filed a formal response, according to the Manhattan District Attorney's office. Gooding's trial had previously been scheduled to begin this month.  

In seeking to have other accusers testify, prosecutors appear to be echoing the strategy Philadelphia-area prosecutors used last year in convicting Bill Cosby at his sexual assault retrial and that Manhattan prosecutors are preparing to use in their prosecution of disgraced Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein.

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