Disgraced celebrity chef and television personality Mario Batali has been charged with indecent assault and battery stemming from an allegation that he groped and kissed a woman without her consent, according to the New York Times.
The alleged incident took place at a Boston restaurant in March 2017, and a criminal complaint was filed last month. He is expected to be arraigned in Boston on Friday. If convicted, Batali, 58, could face up to five years in prison and be required to register as a sex offender.
The identity of Batali’s accuser was not disclosed in the criminal compliant, but The Times reports that the allegation is similar to one made by Natali Tene in civil suit filed last year.
In a statement to the Times, Batali’s lawyer, Anthony E. Fuller, said both the criminal compliant and civil complaint were “brought by the same individual without any new basis, are without merit. [Batali] intends to fight the allegations vigorously and we expect the outcome to fully vindicate Mr. Batali,” Fuller said.
At the height of the #MeToo movement in 2017, allegations of Batali’s misconduct against four different women were detailed in an article published by Eater. Three women later filed police reports, accusing Batali of assaulting them years earlier at two of his Manhattan restaurants. The NYPD ultimately closed their investigation, however, citing a lack of evidence and statue of limitations.
The allegations forced Batali to cease involvement in many of his businesses and step away from his gig as a co-host on the ABC talk show The Chew.