Chef Mario Batali facing US assault charge

Chef Mario Batali is scheduled to be arraigned Friday on a charge of indecent assault and battery.
Chef Mario Batali is scheduled to be arraigned Friday on a charge of indecent assault and battery.

Celebrity chef Mario Batali is facing a criminal charge on allegations he forcibly kissed and groped a woman at a Boston restaurant in 2017.

Batali, who recently gave up financial stakes in all his restaurants, is scheduled to be arraigned Friday on a charge of indecent assault and battery, a spokeswoman for Suffolk County District Attorney Rachael Rollins said.

It's the first criminal charge against Batali resulting from several sexual harassment and assault allegations that have crippled his career.

A criminal complaint filed last month reportedly said Batali noticed the woman taking a picture of him at the restaurant and offered to take a selfie with her.

The woman then alleged Batali grabbed her chest, kissed her face and touched her groin without her consent.

The details in the complaint mirror those in a civil lawsuit filed against Batali in August. The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages for "severe emotional distress" including anxiety and self-doubt.

An attorney for Batali told The Boston Globe that the chef denies the allegations. His lawyer didn't immediately respond to an email on Wednesday from The Associated Press.

Several other women have previously come forward to allege sexual misconduct by Batali. Batali stepped down from daily operations at his restaurant empire and cooking show in December 2017 after four women accused him of inappropriate touching.

Australian Associated Press