Celebrity chef Mario Batali is under additional scrutiny for new sexual harassment and assault charges, this time at a Boston restaurant from 2017. Batali divested from his restaurant empire last year and has kept a low profile, but that hasn’t stopped new complaints from being filed.
The Boston Globe says that Batali has been compelled to appear in a Boston court on Friday for arraignment on criminal charges. A woman reported that Batali allegedly groped and kissed her against her will at a Back Bay restaurant in 2017 after the #MeToo stories started breaking.
According to the report, the woman, who is not named, claims that Batali, 58, groped and kissed her despite her refusal at Towne Stove and Spirits on Boylston Street, near his restaurant, Eataly, on March 31, 2017. She filed a police report four days later. She says she was eating at the bar with a friend and recognized Batali, who was sitting a few seats away.
The alleged victim says she then took a photo of the celebrity chef over her shoulder, and when Batali noticed, he told her to “come here right now.” She says she went over to apologize and offered to erase the photo, but he said it was OK and offered to take a selfie with her.
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The complainant says that she stood next to Batali’s bar stool, but instead of posing for a photo, she says he “grabbed her chest.” He then reportedly started “kissing her face and touching her groin” without her consent.
The woman says she pulled away from Batali, but he kept “pulling on her face” and asked her if she wanted to join him at his hotel, the nearby Mandarin Oriental. She added that the celebrity chef seemed intoxicated, judging by the smell and his “half-closed eyes.”
Lawyers for the woman wrote in the initial civil complaint that she and her friend quickly left the restaurant and that the encounter left her shaken.
“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.”
But Batali’s lawyer, Anthony Fuller, a partner in the Boston office of the law firm Hogan Lovells, says his client denies the accusations.
“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.”