Mario Batali, the celebrity chef who faced a #MeToo scandal in 2017, will be arraigned in Boston on Friday on a single count of indecent assault and battery, the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office has confirmed. Batali, 58, is accused of groping a female fan during a meet-and-greet two and a half years ago while she took a selfie.
Since 2017, Batali has faced multiple sexual misconduct charges spanning nearly two decades, with women accusing him of everything from unwanted touching to sexual harassment. After initial sexual misconduct allegations surfaced, Batali issued an apology letter on on his newsletter, which drew the ire of critics for including a recipe for cinnammon rolls at the end of it.
In 2018, several female fans told Eater that Batali had allegedly groped them under similar circumstances as the incident related in the Boston charge, accusing him of “rubbing breasts, grabbing behinds, and forced, open mouthed kisses” when they met the chef at a bar or industry event. In total, nearly 18 women accused the chef of sexual misconduct, according to the Eater investigation. Batali has denied all charges against him.
The allegations against Batali also prompted an investigation from the NYPD, which confirmed last year that it was looking into allegations that Batali had drugged and sexually assaulted a woman in 2004 at his restaurant Babbo, which Batali denied. The NYPD dropped the investigation without filing any charges earlier this year.
In the wake of the allegations against him, Batali has been forced to surrender his stake in all of his restaurants, as well as sell his shares in the grocery chain Eataly. If convicted of the charge, he could face two and a half years in jail and would likely have to register as a sex offender.
“Mr. Batali denies the allegations in both this criminal complaint and the civil complaint filed last August,” his lawyer Anthony Fuller said in a statement. “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.”