Social media is a funny thing; with the power to persuade society and spark innumerable conversations, recent years have proved its influence in everything from national elections and sexual abuse cases – more specifically, the #MeToo movement. While the new era of speaking out after years of debilitating silence has caused a backlog of court cases and pro-justice convictions, some people – namely high-profile celebrities – have had enough.
Known for his roles in films such as Gladiator and Shadowboxer, Cuba Gooding Jr has been the subject of a new sexual abuse claim. In late June, the actor returned to court after he faced new charges relating to a groping incident in New York, earlier that month. He petitioned to dismiss his misdemeanor charge of forcible touching and sex abuse in the third degree, however overnight a Manhattan judge denied his request to dismiss the case.
Quick to respond to the decision, the 51-year-old’s attorney Mark Heller said, “After fifty years of defending innocent, falsely accused and unfairly prosecuted defendants, I am igniting the ‘Not Me Movement’ (#NotMe).’ ”
There is far more to the case in question than meets the eye and like many of these groping cases, the incident involved a public place, drugs, alcohol and many involved with ulterior motives. Gooding has strongly denied any allegations made against him, though the #NotMe Movement does leave a sour taste.
This morning, I brought the news to my fellow colleagues in the office. Some argued that he is “innocent until proven guilty” so there is no problem in supposedly launching a #NotMe movement, it was also argued that it was offensive to everything that the #MeToo movement stood for and while he is still in court, no such statements should be made. Some had agreed that perhaps it is the balance this era of social media movements needs. Nevertheless, the #MeToo movement is based on decades of proven history so should we really launch a newly coined ‘movement’ without the evidence to back it up?
“I am totally confident that when a jury of Cuba Gooding, Jr.’s peers assess all of the exculpatory evidence in this case, that he will be totally exonerated,” Heller said. “His case will be a hallmark example for the #NotMe Movement.”
Thus far, the response to Heller’s comments have been negative with Manhattan prosecutors accusing the lawyer of victim shaming.
Stay tuned for a verdict.