Celebrity chef Mario Batali is facing an assault and battery charge stemming from claims that he sexually assaulted a woman in 2017.
The 58-year-old restaurateur is scheduled to be arraigned on an indecent assault and battery charge on Friday in Boston Municipal Court, the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office told NBC Boston. The office confirmed to the outlet that the charge is related to a 2017 accusation that Batali sexually assaulted a female fan at a restaurant in the Back Bay area of Boston.
That woman, Natali Tene, filed a lawsuit against Batali in August 2018, alleging that the celebrity chef groped her after she encountered him at a restaurant in April 2017, CNN reports. Batali got close to her under the pretense of taking a selfie together, but then rubbed and groped her breasts and genitals and kissed her, she claimed.
“What Mario Batali did to Natali was disgusting and vile,” her lawyers, Eric Baum and Matthew Fogelman, said in a statement obtained by CNN. “Batali sexually assaulted our client in open view and without hesitation. He has shown no remorse. His actions cannot go unanswered.”
Tene’s suit asked for damages “in an amount determined by the Court,” CNN reports.
On behalf of Batali, attorney Anthony Fuller seemingly confirmed on Wednesday that the lawsuit and the recent charge against Batali are related to the same incident, according to NBC Boston.
“Mr. Batali denies the allegations in both this criminal complaint and the civil complaint filed last August,” he 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.”
If convicted, Batali will be required to register as a sex offender and may be sentenced to up to two-and-a-half years in jail, CBS News reports.
Prior to the 2018 lawsuit, a piece published by food news outlet Eater in December 2017 revealed that Batali had been accused of sexual misconduct by multiple women going back decades. In the wake of those allegations, Batali stepped away from a multitude of professional projects. He also issued an apology for his “many mistakes,” but drew confusion and ire when he included a recipe for “Pizza Dough Cinnamon Rolls” in his apology letter.
Numerous women went on to accuse the chef of sexual misconduct in a May 2018 “60 Minutes” segment, prompting an investigation by the New York Police Department, CBS News reports.
“I vehemently deny any allegations of sexual assault. My past behavior has been deeply inappropriate and I am sincerely remorseful for my actions,” Batali said in a statement obtained by the outlet shortly after the episode aired.
Police closed their investigation in January without charges being filed, CNN reports.
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