This month, Cuba Gooding Jr. faced new charges of sex abuse. At his arraignment in Manhattan Criminal Court, Gooding pleaded not guilty to additional charges of sex abuse – he has already pleaded not guilty to one count of sex abuse in the third degree and one count of forcible touching – both of which are misdemeanors.
Cuba Gooding Jr.'s run-in with the law over these sex abuse allegations highlight two specific things that can cause problems for sex abuse defendants not only in Manhattan but in Chicago as well, and that is:
- evidence may indicate a person's innocence and yet the prosecutor will still move forward with a case; and
- even if found criminally not guilty, there is still the threat of civil lawsuits for the same accusations but with a significantly lower bar to prove the accusations.
Evidence Proving Innocence in Sex Abuse Cases
When a person – even someone with celebrity status like Cuba Gooding, Jr. –faces a crime like sex abuse, there is a serious social stigma that attaches to the allegation. So, even when there is evidence proving a person's innocence, the prosecutor may still press forward with a trial. Taxpayers pay for these trials, too, so it is important to keep this in mind.
In Cuba Gooding Jr.'s case, there is video disproving one of the women's allegations against him, and yet that case is still moving forward. The problem here is that regardless of the evidence (or lack of it), there is still a presumption of guilt, and that's true even after a jury finds the defendant not guilty.
Civil Lawsuits for Sex Abuse Cases
In addition to the criminal charges against Cuba Gooding Jr., he has also been sued by Natasha Ashworth. Ms. Ashworth is one of two women claiming Gooding groped her. She was working at a nightclub on Ninth Avenue in Chelsea where she said Gooding touched her after she repeatedly asked that he not.
Given Gooding's celebrity status, it does not come as a surprise that Ms. Ashworth filed a lawsuit for money damages. First, the bar to prove wrongdoing and personal injury is much lower. In a criminal proceeding, a defendant is innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, but in a civil proceeding, the plaintiff must only prove the allegations by a preponderance of the evidence. This means that if Ms. Ashworth can prove that more likely than not Gooding sexually abused her, she can win the case and be awarded money damages.
Gooding's lawyers, according to the New York Times, are already indicating that filing this lawsuit is evidence that Gooding is innocent, i.e.:
Ms. Ashworth's lawsuit proves that her accusations against the actor are a “money grab.”
This may or may not be true, but it won't matter in a criminal case – and that's what any person of sex abuse charges must worry about. There is the potential for a lengthy jail sentence for something that is often one person's word against another person's word. Obtaining an experienced sex crimes defense attorney in Dupage County or Cook County will be critical to the success of any defendant's case in the greater Chicago metro area.
And, it must be noted, that you don't have to be a celebrity to be sued for sex abuse. Any person can be sued. Also keep in mind that winning the criminal case is a good foundation to winning a civil case, should one also be filed against an alleged sex crimes offender in Illinois.