US actor Cuba Gooding Jr admits forcibly kissing waitress

Cuba Gooding Jr in 2019
Gooding Jr

Actor Cuba Gooding Jr has admitted forcibly kissing a woman, in a plea deal that is expected to bring criminal proceedings against him to an end.

The Oscar winner pleaded guilty to a misdemeanour charge of forcibly kissing a waitress in a nightclub in 2018.

He must continue counselling for six months and avoid any further arrests.

If he does, he can rescind his plea and instead plead guilty to a lesser violation of harassment. If he does not, he could face a year in jail.

Gooding Jr, 54, won an Oscar for his role in the 1996 film Jerry Maguire, and is also known for films including Boyz N The Hood and Men of Honour.

He has been accused of groping and unwanted touching by more than 20 women, with three accusations leading to criminal charges.

The plea deal means charges relating to all three will be dismissed, his lawyer said. The two women who brought the other charges had accused him of groping them in 2018 and 2019.

His lawyer Frank Rothman told the AFP news agency: “In six months, if he stays out of trouble, that charge [to which he pleaded guilty] will be withdrawn, and he will have no criminal record at the end of this.”

In court on Wednesday, the actor said: “I apologise for making anybody ever feel inappropriately touched.

“I am a celebrity figure. I come into contact with people. I never want them to feel slighted or uncomfortable in any way.”

One of the two other women addressed the court on Wednesday, telling how Gooding Jr had grabbed her breast “as if I was a piece of meat for dinner that night”, according to the Associated Press. “I feel very sad and feel very lost for what I can do,” she added.

Gooding Jr still faces a civil lawsuit brought by a woman who has accused him of raping her twice in 2013, which he has denied.

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