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Cuba Gooding Jr. attends premiere of “Rocketman” on May 29, 2019 in New York. (Photo: Roy Rochlin/Getty Images for Paramount Pictu)

Cuba Gooding Jr., the Oscar-winning actor who was accused of drunkenly groping a woman’s breast in a New York bar Sunday, says he’s innocent and will turn himself in to sex-crimes detectives Thursday to be arraigned. 

Nothing happened, Gooding, 51, declared to a paparazzo at the Los Angeles International Airport as he prepared to board a flight Tuesday night.

In a video of the interview posted by TMZ, Gooding said he was at the bar, met people, took pictures with fans but rejected any suggestion he touched someone inappropriately on purpose or by accident. 

“I trust the system, let the process speak for itself,” Gooding said as he walked into the terminal, interrupted by a fan seeking a picture. “There’s a tape that shows what really happened.”

Was there any groping involved? “No. Nothing.” 

Is he guilty? “No, absolutely not.”

New York police detectives have been seeking to talk to Gooding since early Monday while investigating an accusation of “forcible touching” made by a woman who said she met the actor Sunday night in the Magic Hour Rooftop Bar and Lounge on 7th Avenue.

One of Gooding’s New York lawyers, Mark J. Heller, told USA TODAY Wednesday that Gooding has not yet met with police, but his legal team negotiated an arrangement for him to voluntarily turn himself in to be arrested and arraigned.

Accused celebrities often seek this low-key approach to facing legal charges in order to avoid being picked up, cuffed and perp-walked into a precinct.  

Heller said Gooding won’t find out until Thursday the precise charge against him.

The New York Post and other local media reported that a 30-year-old woman told police that a “highly intoxicated” Gooding grabbed her breast while they were drinking together at the bar late Sunday. 

The Post reported the accuser objected and got into an argument with Gooding that had to be broken up by security. Gooding was seen on video leaving the club soon after and the woman called 911 hours later around 1 a.m. Monday.

Video of Gooding singing with others at the bar was posted on Instagram but has since been removed. 

At LAX, Gooding, who won an Oscar for best supporting actor for 1996’s “Jerry Maguire,” seemed calm, affable and a little hoarse. He dodged some direct questions about what happened at the bar and smiled at fans who approached him.

Twice he deflected questions about the groping allegation to praise Jon Stewart, who earlier on Tuesday had choked up while testifying before a congressional committee about what he called Congress’ “callous indifference” to reauthorizing the fund to aid 9/11 first responders – such as New York firefighters and police officers.

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Academy award-winning actor Cuba Gooding Jr. is starring in the London revival of musical “Chicago” taking on the role of lawyer Billy Flynn. ROUGH CUT (no reporter narration).
Video provided by Reuters
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Author : USA TODAY

Publish date : 2019-06-12 16:25:08