NEW YORK (AP) — Actor Cuba Gooding Jr. had consensual sex with a woman who has accused him of raping her in a New York City hotel a decade ago, a lawyer told a federal judge Monday as a trial on her civil claim was scheduled for June.
Attorney Gary Becker made the assertion in Manhattan federal court as Judge Paul A. Crotty said a trial on the claims of a woman identified only as Jane Doe can start the first week of June, though an exact date was not finalized.
The Oscar-winning actor once burnished a reputation as a good guy in movies including “Jerry Maguire” and “As Good As It Gets.”
But a slew of harassment claims against Gooding have turned him into a #MeToo defendant in multiple courts.
In a criminal case in state court in Manhattan last fall, Gooding pleaded guilty to a non-criminal harassment violation in a deal that spared him from jail time.
Authorities say claims of groping, unwanted kissing and other inappropriate behavior by Gooding have been made by at least 30 women, frequently after encounters with him at New York City nightspots.
The introduction to Jane Doe occurred in August 2013 when she met the actor in the VIP lounge of a restaurant in the Greenwich Village section of Manhattan and agreed to join him with a friend of hers at a nearby hotel bar, according to court papers.
But, once at the hotel, and before her friend arrived, Jane Doe was encouraged to proceed to Gooding’s hotel room so the actor could change his clothing and they could return downstairs to meet her friend, the court papers said.
The lawsuit alleged Gooding got violent in the room, pushing the woman onto the bed and forcibly raping her while ignoring her pleas for him to stop.
The woman’s lawyers did not immediately comment.
On Monday, Gooding’s lawyer said the defense at trial would assert that sex was consensual, relying in part on testimony by two former owners of the restaurant where she met Gooding who will say she returned late that evening to boast that she’d had sex with a celebrity.
Outside court, Becker and another defense attorney, Edward Vincent Sapone, said that a third witness, a former female bartender at the restaurant, could also testify about the woman’s return to the restaurant and what she said.
In court papers, lawyers for the woman have said she is entitled to $2 million in compensatory damages and $4 million in punitive damages for the “significant emotional distress” she suffered after meeting Gooding.
The lawyers wrote that she began binge eating after the attack, has felt suicidal at times and has faced flashbacks that make her very anxious, along with feelings of worthlessness, distrust and low self esteem.
“To this day, it is difficult for her to say the word ‘rape’ as it brings upon her an intense amount of shame,” her lawyers wrote in a July 2021 court filing.
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