Celebrity chef Mario Batali pleaded not guilty to an assault and battery charge in Boston on Friday.
The criminal charge is the first to be brought against Batali after multiple women accused him of sexual misconduct in New York City in 2017, which was closed due to a lack of evidence and because it went beyond Manhattan’s statute of limitations, according to a report published by NBC News.
Batali was released Friday without bail and is not expected to attend a scheduled June 12 pretrial hearing.
The accuser was identified as Natali Tene by her lawyer, Eric M. Baum. Tene claims that she was at one of Batali’s restaurants when she noticed him near her and a friend. She attempted to take a selfie with the chef over her shoulder, but he allegedly motioned for her to join him. (RELATED: Celebrity Chef Mario Batali Expected To Be Arraigned For Alleged Assault)
When she got close enough for a photo, Batali allegedly “grabbed and kissed Ms. Tene’s face, rubbed her breasts, grabbed her buttocks, put his hands between her legs and groped her groin area, and kept forcefully squeezing her face into his as he kissed her repeatedly,” according to the lawsuit filed by Tene.
Tene also filed a separate civil lawsuit against the celebrity chef.
“The criminal charges brought against him are independent of the ongoing civil lawsuit. Mr. Batali must be held accountable criminally and civilly for his despicable acts,” Baum said in a statement.
“Natali is grateful that the Suffolk County District Attorney’s office in Boston has chosen to go forward in prosecuting Mario Batali on criminal charges of sexually assaulting her. In doing so, the DA’s Office has taken a strong stance in advocating on behalf of our client,” he continued.
Celebrity chef #MarioBatali just arrived at court, where he’ll be arraigned on a charge of Indecent Assault and Battery, for an alleged groping incident that happened at a #Boston restaurant in 2017 @wbz pic.twitter.com/46r97zbl3s
— MichelleReneeFisher (@Michelle_WBZ) May 24, 2019
As previously reported, the incident described by Tene happened months before Eater published an investigation into the celebrity chef in which four women came forward accusing him of sexual misconduct in 2017.
Since the first-published allegations, more women have come forward and Batali has gone from being a regular on popular food shows to being dissolved from all restaurants he co-owned.