Four Season's co-owner Julian Niccolini pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor assault on Thursday — the end of case where a 28-year-old female family friend accused him of sexual abuse last May, the Times reports. Niccolini, 62, admitted to touching her and causing scratches and bruises to her hip and thigh. The guilty plea was part of a deal with the prosecutors, where the restaurateur will not serve any jail time unless he commits a crime in the next year. Initially, he was accused of felony sexual abuse, a charge that carries up to seven years behind bars.
The woman told authorities last spring that Niccolini had molested her during a party at the restaurant, grabbing her and trying to take off her bra and stockings. But the incident was not the first time Niccolini had been accused of inappropriate behavior. A waitress sued him for using "foul, lewd, obscene" language to proposition her, a case that was settled out of court. People in the industry have also called Niccolini's behavior "a little too familiar." The restaurateur, who maintained his innocence, declined to comment to the Times.
Meanwhile, Niccolini won't be a Four Seasons co-owner for much longer. He and partner Alex Von Bidder are leaving the restaurant to make way for Major Food Group's takeover of the historic space. They have said that they plan to open a new restaurant further downtown.