Maligned celebrity chef Mario Batali — who was officially ousted from his former restaurant empire in March — is facing his first criminal charge following a series of misconduct accusations. A Boston-area district attorney’s office has charged Batali with indecent assault and battery for allegedly groping and kissing a woman at a Boston restaurant in 2017, the Times reports.
Batali is set to be arraigned in Boston on Friday, according to the Associated Press. The charge stems from a criminal complaint filed by a woman last month, who alleges that Batali kissed her and groped her chest and groin while the two took a selfie at the now-defunct Towne Stove and Spirits in Back Bay. Though her name has been redacted from the documents, the new suit contains similar allegations made by Natali Tene, whose story was detailed in an Eater investigation and who filed a civil suit against the chef last year.
Batali’s lawyer told the Times that he denies the allegations in both this new criminal complaint and the civil one filed last year. “The charges, brought by the same individual without any new basis, are without merit,” Anthony E. Fuller says.
The accusations against Batali first came out in December 2017 in an investigation that also revealed multiple other alleged misconduct accusations stemming from interviews with nearly three dozen current and former Batali employees. Batali was also later accused by several fans of groping them while they posed with him for photos.
Since that time, Batali’s self-made empire has crumbled. At the time of the initial accusations, he stepped away from day-to-day operations of his restaurants. He was then swiftly fired from former daytime talk show The Chew, his cookbooks were pulled from the shelves of Target, several of his restaurants shuttered, the Food Network backed out of a renewal of his cooking show Molto Mario, and he finally divested from his remaining restaurants in March of this year. Batali is still an investor in restaurants such as the Spotted Pig and Eataly, though.
In January, TMZ reported that Batali would not face criminal charges in New York City, as the NYPD could not find enough evidence to move forward with the investigation. But if Batali is convicted of these criminal charges in Boston, he could face jail time and be required to register as a sex offender.