Actor Cuba Gooding Jr. was arraigned on sexual misconduct charges in Manhattan on Thursday. The Oscar winner pleaded not guilty to the charges (which stem from a new allegation) hours after TMZ revealed video of him touching a server at TAO last year.
Earlier this month, prosecutors said that a dozen women would testify about Gooding groping, licking, pinching, or biting them without their consent, in addition to the two women who accused him of misconduct. Here's how TMZ describes the October 24th, 2018 incident in which server Natasha Ashworth says he pinched her: "Two camera angles back up much of Ashworth's account of what went down. After the initial contact, you can see she's agitated and there's a heated convo. She claims she told Gooding not to touch her butt, and he replied, 'Aw, that's no fun, and I didn't, I touched your back.' The video shows Cuba attempting to point out where he claims he touched her. However, as prosecutors said in the indictment ... you see Natasha grab his arm and motion him away."
TMZ adds, "What's NOT clear from the video is what kind of contact Gooding made with Natasha's backside — a glancing touch, a pat or the 'pinch' she and prosecutors allege."
"What I see in the TAO video is at roughly 4:30 a.m., at the end of the day, Cuba is exiting the facility and with the back of his hand, his fingernail, he taps the lady in the back and turns around to gives her a high five just as a salutation of goodbye — it's not criminal conduct whatsoever," said Gooding's lawyer, Mark Jay Heller, today.
TMZ got this statement from the Manhattan D.A.'s office about the video, "We’ve provided defense counsel a short clip from one of the incidents and, within 24 hours, that video had been released to the media... We feel that the release is inappropriate and an effort to taint the jury pool. The video released was also incomplete and only shows conduct from immediately after the charged incident."
Details about the new allegations weren't available. The AP reports that the judge will decide in December "on whether any of those women can take the witness stand."