“Not guilty,” said the “Jerry Maguire” star, who was escorted into the courtroom in cuffs. Gooding faces a total of six misdemeanor counts of forcible touching and sex abuse stemming from three accusers’ allegations.
During the brief hearing in Manhattan Supreme Court, Assistant DA Jenna Long accused the defense team of leaking an edited video to TMZ, which shows the actor tapping the backside of TAO nightclub server Natasha Ashworth on October 24, 2018.
“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,” Long told Justice Curtis Farber. “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.”
He was previously indicted for touching Ashworth’s buttocks and for squeezing the breast of a 30-year-old accuser in June at the Moxy hotel.
Prosecutors offered no description of the newest allegation, but court papers say he subjected a woman to “sexual contact without consent” at LAVO on the Upper East Side between 11:15 p.m. September 9 and 12:10 a.m. September 10, 2018.
Long also said that since the last court date, several additional women have come forward with sexual misconduct claims, and they are probing their potential as Molineux witnesses. A judge can permit these witnesses to testify at trial to misconduct for which a defendant is not charged.
Prosecutors previously filed a motion asking a judge to let them introduce 12 Molineux witnesses who allege that Gooding touched them inappropriately.
At least 17 accusers have come forward, according to prosecutors.
Defense lawyers Mark Heller and Peter Toumbekis denied releasing the video and blasted prosecutors for charging Gooding in the first place.
Heller said that videos of each incident show that no crime occurred.
“This is clearly a case of malicious prosecution and we are confident that as soon as this case is dismissed, we will hold the city of New York and the accusers accountable for their conduct,” Heller said outside the courthouse.