Cuba Gooding Jr.'s lawyers seek dismissal of groping case; judge declines immediate ruling

Cuba Gooding Jr., right, with his attorney Mark Heller, arrives at court in New York, June 26, 2019.
Cuba Gooding Jr., right, with his attorney Mark Heller, arrives at court in New York, June 26, 2019.

Cuba Gooding Jr. appeared in court Wednesday in New York as his lawyers argued for dismissal of a charge he groped a woman's breast in a Manhattan bar. The judge declined to rule immediately, giving prosecutors until July 17 to respond, according to the Associated Press and the Manhattan District Attorney's office.

Gooding's legal team argued that the misdemeanor "forcible touching" count should be tossed, citing witness affidavits that say it didn't happen, and numerous online blog posts that could suggest the accuser has a "troubled mentality" that explains why she made a "false" allegation against Gooding.

Also, a retired police expert on sex-crime investigations submitted an affidavit declaring that the blurry surveillance tape taken from the bar on the night in question shows Gooding did not grope the accuser.

Gooding's lawyers are providing the judge with a copy of the video that they say will show Gooding did not commit a crime.

Prosecutors presented the judge with a deposition from Gooding's accuser, according to Justin Henry, spokesman for Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr.

"The Interests of Justice are SCREAMING OUT FOR THE EXONERATION OF CUBA GOODING JR," Gooding lawyer Mark Heller declared in his motion to dismiss, which he posted on his website Sunday.

The defense sought an immediate ruling, saying delays could cost the actor film opportunities he's lined up. Judge Keshia Espinal said she would rule on the motion to dismiss on August 14, after prosecutors have a chance to respond in writing to the defense's motion.

Gooding arrived at court dressed in a dark suit with a black shirt and tie, surrounded by his legal team and by security.

Gooding, 51, has pleaded not guilty and is free on his own recognizance. This is his first court appearance since his arraignment last week. If convicted, he could be jailed for up to a year.

He is accused of touching without consent a 29-year-old woman who says the Oscar-winning actor grabbed her breast and squeezed it during an evening of drinking at the Magic Hour Rooftop Bar and Lounge in midtown Manhattan on June 9.

The accuser has not been identified and it is not clear whether she has a lawyer or representative to speak for her.

After she called police early on June 10, police told reporters they were investigating a report of "forcible touching" but did not identify the accused as Gooding. Instead, the New York Post identified Gooding as the target.

On Tuesday evening, preparing to board a flight in Los Angeles, Gooding was stopped by a paparazzo and was recorded denying he groped anyone. He also said there was a "tape" that would show what happened.

Gooding turned himself in on June 13, was arrested and arraigned on one misdemeanor count of forcible touching. He pleaded not guilty.

According to the complaint filed at Gooding's arraignment, the language of the statute he allegedly violated reads: "The defendant intentionally, and for no legitimate purpose, forcibly touched the sexual and other intimate parts of another person for the purpose of degrading and abusing such person, and for the purpose of gratifying the defendant's sexual desire; the defendant subjected another person to sexual contact without the latter's consent."

Snippets of the video surveillance tape from the Magic Hour published by TMZ is fuzzy and confusing.

Heller, however, says he viewed the entire two-plus hours of tape and he thinks it exonerates Gooding. He says the video shows the accuser "stalking" Gooding and his girlfriend in the bar.

Contributing: The Associated Press

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Cuba Gooding Jr.'s lawyers seek dismissal of groping case; judge declines immediate ruling