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Cuba Gooding Sexual Abuse Case

Pate & Johnson has represented many people in the State of Georgia who have been charged with sexual battery or charges involving allegations of unwanted touching. When these types of cases appear in the news, often involving high profile individuals, Attorney Page Pate is contacted by the media to discuss the allegations and the potential criminal case that may follow.

In this case, Cuba Gooding, Jr., a famous actor, is alleged to have groped a woman at a bar in New York while there with his girlfriend. The incident was captured on surveillance video and appears to show Cuba Gooding, Jr. putting his hand on the alleged victim in this case.

CNN interviewed Page for an analysis of the video and the criminal charge that has been brought against Mr. Gooding, Jr. When asked about the video, Page says “…it looks, to me, like Cuba Gooding, Jr. does actually touch the person who’s making the accusation. It’s hard to tell because there is a distance there, but it appears that there is some touch. Now, the question is, was it consensual? I mean, we saw the accuser sit down very close to Cuba Gooding’s wife, close enough where she could certainly reach out. And when he makes this touch, as it appears on the video, she doesn’t react to it, she doesn’t get up, she doesn’t push him away. So I think his lawyer is saying, “Look, it maybe a touch occurred, but it was consensual. Therefore, no crime.”

Regarding the charge of forcible touching that has been brought against Mr. Gooding, Jr., Page notes that “it doesn’t appear to be the kind of forcible touching that we normally see as the basis for a criminal charge.”

Page also discusses what would have to be proven in a criminal case like this in order for the accuser to have a successful case. Page explains that “…first, you have to have her statement. She has to say, “Look, I in no way intended for him to touch me. It was not consensual. I never suggested that that was okay.” And that’s gonna be difficult to say, watching the video. Because I think most people, and eventually a jury, will look at that and say, “Wait a minute. If that was not consensual, why didn’t you get up and move away? Why didn’t you push his hand away? We didn’t see any physical or verbal reaction from the accuser once that touch apparently occurred.” Page also agrees that the video could have a determining effect on this case.

When discussing how an attorney might see allegations like this, along with the video, and call it “sexual abuse,” Page explains that “…different states call it different things. In Georgia, it’s called sexual battery. All it has to be is a touch. It can be a very light touch. I could brush up against you. But if that touch was nonconsensual, in other words, you didn’t want it to happen, and there was some sexual purpose to it, either I’m touching an intimate part or I’m doing it for sexual gratification, that’s all it takes. It doesn’t have to be persistent. It doesn’t have to happen more than once. As long as it’s intentional, sexual, and without consent, then that’s a crime in Georgia and in New York, as well.”

Cuba Gooding, Jr. has pleaded not guilty to the charge of forcible touching in this case. It is unusual to have video footage that shows the incident in cases like this, and we will continue to watch this case to see what impact the video has on the outcome.

TRANSCRIPT:

Christi: All right, I wanna talk to you about another piece of video that has made its way online. Actor Cuba Gooding, Jr., he’s pleaded not guilty to a charge of forcible touching, after allegedly groping a woman at a New York bar. I want to show you the surveillance video. There it is. And we pointed out who’s who. There’s Cuba Gooding, Jr. right there. His girlfriend is sitting next to him. The accuser comes up and sits next to her. Gooding’s attorneys say, “You know what? This video is actually gonna vindicate our client.” Can you tell anything in this video, Page?

Page: Christi, it looks, to me, like Cuba Gooding, Jr. does actually touch the person who’s making the accusation. It’s hard to tell because there is a distance there, but it appears that there is some touch. Now, the question is, was it consensual? I mean, we saw the accuser sit down very close to Cuba Gooding’s wife, close enough where she could certainly reach out.

And when he makes this touch, as it appears on the video, she doesn’t react to it, she doesn’t get up, she doesn’t push him away. So I think his lawyer is saying, “Look, it maybe a touch occurred, but it was consensual. Therefore, no crime.”

Christi: Or it was unintentional…

Page: Or it was unintentional.

Christi: …even, perhaps, he says. I mean…

Page: But it appears that he’s reaching over to her in some way.

Christi: Right.

Page: A hand does at least go towards her leg. I don’t see the hand touch the breast. I think maybe a closer examination of the video may show that. But either way, it doesn’t appear to be the kind of forcible touching that we normally see as the basis for a criminal charge.

Christi: So, other than this video, what would have to be proven for her to win this case?

Page: Well, first, you have to have her statement. She has to say, “Look, I in no way intended for him to touch me. It was not consensual. I never suggested that that was okay.” And that’s gonna be difficult to say, watching the video. Because I think most people, and eventually a jury, will look at that and say, “Wait a minute. If that was not consensual, why didn’t you get up and move away? Why didn’t you push his hand away? We didn’t see any physical or verbal reaction from the accuser once that touch apparently occurred.”

Christi: Again, we’re in a situation where video could make or break this case.

Page: Absolutely, yes. Because what we see here is, perhaps, a touching, but the absence of any sort of reaction to it that would suggest it was not consensual. Now, a lot of people think, you know, they hear he’s charged with sexual abuse. Well, has he been following this woman…

Christi: That’s what I wanted…

Page: …around and…?

Christi: …to ask you about.

Page: No.

Christi: Because when you put… I think there are images of what sexual abuse is.

Page: Right.

Christi: How would you, as an attorney, how would you hear this woman’s story, see this video, and say that’s sexual abuse?

Page: Well, different states call it different things. In Georgia, it’s called sexual battery. All it has to be is a touch. It can be a very light touch. I could brush up against you. But if that touch was nonconsensual, in other words, you didn’t want it to happen, and there was some sexual purpose to it, either I’m touching an intimate part or I’m doing it for sexual gratification, that’s all it takes. It doesn’t have to be persistent. It doesn’t have to happen more than once. As long as it’s intentional, sexual, and without consent, then that’s a crime in Georgia and in New York, as well.

Christi: Oh, all right. Page Pate, thank you so much…

Page: Thank you.

Christi: …for walking us through it all.

Page: Enjoyed it.

Christi: As always.