Mario Batali to Face Indecent Assault and Battery Charges for Allegedly Groping and Kissing Woman
The chef was previously accused of sexual misconduct and assault by multiple women in December 2017
Mario Batali is once again facing allegations of assault.
On Friday, the chef, 58, will be arraigned in Boston Municipal Court on charges of indecent assault and battery in connection with a March 2017 incident at a restaurant in the Back Bay are of Boston, Massachusetts, the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office confirms to PEOPLE.
The criminal charges against Batali stem from a series of allegations from a woman, who claims the chef kissed and groped her without consent two years ago, according to The Boston Globe.
In a statement issued to PEOPLE, Batali’s attorney, Anthony Fuller, a partner of Hogan Lovells Law, denied the allegations and expressed Batali’s intent to fight them.
“Mr. Batali denies the allegations in both this criminal complaint and the civil complaint filed last August,” Fuller said. “The charges, brought by the same individual without any new basis, are without merit. He intends to fight the allegations vigorously and we expect the outcome to fully vindicate Mr. Batali.”
In the criminal complaint also obtained by The Boston Globe, the woman said she saw Batali at Towne Stove and Spirits, near Eataly Boston — an Italian restaurant Batali once held shares in — and attempted to take a photo of him.
When Batali noticed, the woman said he allegedly called her over and she thought he would reprimand her or ask her to delete it.
Instead, as set out in court records obtained by The Boston Globe, Batali allegedly put his arm around her, grabbed her chest, touched her groin, and then began to kiss her face all without consent.
The woman reportedly alleged that Batali, who appeared to be intoxicated “by the smell and half-closed eyes” kept “pulling on her face” and asked her to come to his nearby hotel.
She said she declined his advances and left with a friend. If convicted, Batali faces a 2½-year sentence in jail and would be required to register as a sex offender, according to the outlet.
The woman made similar allegations in a civil lawsuit she filed in August 2018.
“Without asking her permission or giving her any warning, and without having received any indication that she had any sexual interest in him whatsoever, which she did not, Batali sexually assaulted her,” the woman’s lawyers wrote in the civil complaint, according to The Boston Globe.
This isn’t the first time that Batali has been accused of sexual assault.
As first reported by Eater in December 2017, the former The Chew co-host was accused of groping by several different women during incidents which involved “inappropriate touching in a pattern of behavior that spans at least two decades.”
One of the women accused Batali of drugging and sexually assaulting her while she was unconscious in 2005.
“I woke up by myself on the floor, I don’t know where I am, of an empty room, wooden floor,” said the woman, who told 60 Minutes that she was an employee at Batali’s New York City restaurant Babbo at the time. “I see broken bottles. The first thing I think is, ‘I’ve been drugged.’ That was the first thing I thought is, ‘I’ve been — I’ve been assaulted.’”
At the time, the chef admitted to acting inappropriately but denied ever sexually assaulting anyone.
“I apologize to the people I have mistreated and hurt,” Batali said in a statement to Eater about the accusations. “Although the identities of most of the individuals mentioned in these stories have not been revealed to me, much of the behavior described does, in fact, match up with ways I have acted.”
“That behavior was wrong and there are no excuses. I take full responsibility and am deeply sorry for any pain, humiliation or discomfort I have caused to my peers, employees, customers, friends and family,” he added.
When the 60 Minutes allegation surfaced, Batali also responded: “I vehemently deny the allegation that I sexually assaulted this woman. My past behavior has been deeply inappropriate and I am sincerely remorseful for my actions.”
In January, NYPD officials closed three sexual assault investigations involving the chef, telling the New York Times, “the charges in two of the case were beyond the New York State statute of limitations, which was lifted in 2006, but not made retroactive,” while the third allegation was dropped due to lack of criminal evidence.
At the time, the NYPD declined to comment to PEOPLE on the specifics of any particular investigation.
More than a year after the initial allegations surfaced, Batali stepped away from his restaurant empire — including his high-profile eateries across the globe like Babbo and Del Posto in New York City — and sold all of his shares in Eataly, an Italian marketplace/restaurant chain.
The chef’s longtime business partner Joe Bastianich and sister Tanya Bastianich Manuali informed Batali & Bastianich Hospitality Group staffers in a letter that Batali’s involvement was done after 20 years, according to the New York Times.
“[Batali] will no longer profit from the restaurants in any way, shape or form,” Manuali reportedly wrote in the letter, which was issued in March.
Batali also confirmed the news, telling PEOPLE in a statement: “I have reached an agreement with Joe and no longer have any stake in the restaurants we built together. I wish him the best of luck in the future.”