Video has emerged of the moment Oscar-winning actor Cuba Gooding Jr. allegedly made contact with a woman’s leg and breast in a New York nightclub.
The legal team for Gooding, who was paraded in handcuffs on Thursday by the NYPD after he was charged with forcible touching, claim the tape exonerates Gooding. The club’s security tape has been published by TMZ.
Gooding’s attorney, Mark J. Heller, said he was “shocked and horrified” that the case was being prosecuted after he presented police with the video from New York’s Magic Hour Rooftop Bar & Lounge.
Heller told The Daily Beast on Thursday that the “almost two hours of tape” reviewed by his team and authorities prove there is no criminal behavior.
“We have reviewed the tapes, and we do not see any criminal conduct having been perpetrated on his part,” Heller said. “He respects women. I’ve known him for over 30 years, this is not something he would do.”
However, the video posted by TMZ is ambiguous. It shows Gooding and his girlfriend, Claudine De Niro (she is the ex-wife of Robert De Niro’s son, but has kept her married name) sitting on a couch in the Magic Hour Rooftop Lounge in Manhattan when the woman who would later accuse him of forcible touching sits down next to them.
Almost immediately Gooding reaches over De Niro, and places his hand on the woman’s left thigh. His hand then moves up towards her breast, and the accuser puts her hand on his.
It is unclear exactly how the woman responds.
A man then walks over to the group and, putting his hand on Gooding’s shoulder, leans in to speak. The man then appears to straighten up before gyrating and grabbing a drink. The group disperses.
Thirty minutes later, footage from another camera shows Cuba and Claudine, who have now moved to another area of the bar, being approached by the accuser who speaks to a security guard who is minding the celebrity couple.
Cuba gets up and leaves, followed by Claudine.
Gooding, 51, who won a supporting actor Oscar in 1997 for Jerry Maguire and had roles in A Few Good Men, The Butler and the television miniseries The People v. O.J. Simpson, handed himself into cops on Thursday and was booked for misdemeanor forcible touching and sexual abuse in the third degree.
He was arraigned Thursday night in Manhattan Criminal Court and released without bail.
In a criminal complaint released by the Manhattan District Attorney’s office, investigators said the woman said she “observed the defendant place his hand on her breast and squeeze,” and that “she did not consent to the defendant touching her breast.”
The 29-year-old woman, who has not been identified by authorities, told cops that she noticed Gooding Jr. was “heavily intoxicated” and offered him a cup of water, a senior NYPD official told The Daily Beast.
Gooding’s surrender came just hours after a second woman reportedly claimed to have also been groped by him over a decade ago, saying he grabbed her butt in 2008 during a brief meeting at a restaurant in Manhattan, the New York Daily News reported.
New York, however, has a five-year statute of limitations on these types of sexual assaults so it was not immediately clear if the actor would be charged or questioned on these allegations.