One of the two women Cuba Gooding Jr. is charged with groping sued the actor on Monday, saying he pinched her buttocks at the nightclub where she worked and that he repeatedly tried to touch her again even as she pleaded with him to stop.
Last week, Mr. Gooding, 51, was charged with forcible touching and third-degree sexual abuse in connection with the woman’s accusation, adding to another groping charge filed against him earlier this year. Prosecutors also revealed accusations by 12 other women who say that Mr. Gooding made unwanted sexual advances toward them, in some cases touching their buttocks or forcibly kissing them. Mr. Gooding, who was not charged in connection with the 12 additional women, denies any wrongdoing.
In the lawsuit filed on Monday in State Supreme Court in Manhattan, the woman, Natasha Ashworth, publicly identified herself for the first time.
She said she had assisted with serving Mr. Gooding’s table at the Tao Downtown nightclub on Ninth Avenue in Chelsea in the early morning hours of Oct. 24, 2018. Toward the end of her shift, after 4 a.m., Ms. Ashworth was near the bar when Mr. Gooding approached her and used his right hand to pinch her bottom, the lawsuit said.
When Ms. Ashworth told Mr. Gooding not to touch her, she recalled him say, “Aw, that’s no fun,” then claim that he actually touched her back, according to the lawsuit. It said that Mr. Gooding tried twice more to touch Ms. Ashworth’s rear end, and she then told him to leave. After he spoke with the nightclub’s manager, the lawsuit said, Mr. Gooding told Ms. Ashworth that he would not return to the establishment again, and then walked out.
Criminal defense lawyers often try to use such lawsuits to their advantage, arguing that the accuser has made up or embellished an incident for financial gain.
Mr. Gooding’s lawyer, Mark J. Heller, did just that on Monday, saying in an interview that Ms. Ashworth’s lawsuit proves that her accusations against the actor are a “money grab.” Mr. Heller said in court last week that she had tried to get a settlement from Mr. Gooding after he was arrested in June on the first groping charge, in which he is accused of grabbing a woman’s breast at a bar. The actor, Mr. Heller said, “bravely chose not to be shaken down.”
Ms. Ashworth’s lawyer, Joshua Kleiman, did not respond to a request for an interview on Monday.
According to the lawsuit, the encounter was caught on video surveillance from two angles. Mr. Heller has called on the Manhattan district attorney’s office to release the video, saying that it would prove that there was “no criminal conduct on the part of Cuba.”
The lawsuit alleges assault, battery and infliction of emotional distress. It said that in Ms. Ashworth’s four years working in the hospitality industry, she “has never been subject to such sexually aggressive conduct by a customer before.”