Actor Cuba Gooding Jr. could be on the hook for millions of dollars in damages after failing to respond to a lawsuit that accused him of raping a woman in New York City back in 2013.
US District Judge Paul Crotty issued a default judgment against Gooding on Thursday (July 29), saying it appeared the Oscar-winning Jerry Maguire star was willfully ignoring the lawsuit and that waiting for him any longer would be unfair to his accuser.
Judge Crotty said that under the law, 53-year-old Gooding’s failure to respond and defend himself in the lawsuit constituted an admission of liability. The judge gave Gooding a final deadline of Sept 7 to participate in the case. The judge said, he’ll decide damages then.
Attorney Mark Heller, who represent Gooding in the criminal case, said the events alleged in the lawsuit “never took place” and suggested the plaintiff was somebody “looking for some glory to bask in the publicity and notoriety of Cuba Gooding Jr.’s case”.
Citing case law, Crotty said in his order last Thursday that he will invite both sides to argue over damages in court before deciding what Gooding owes. The accuser originally sued Gooding in August 2020. The case was dismissed and then quickly reopened in March over a technical issue. Gooding was served with court papers April 22 and failed to respond to an initial May 13 deadline, Crotty said in his order.
Gooding is accused of sexually assaulting three distinct women in three different Manhattan nightclubs in 2018 and 2019. He is being tried in state court in New York. Gooding allegedly pinched one of the women’s buttocks. Another person claimed he squeezed her breast. Gooding has entered a not-guilty plea. A trial date will be set at a hearing on October 18 according to AP.