Celebrity chef Mario Batali facing sex assault charge in Boston

BOSTON (AP) — Celebrity chef Mario Batali is facing a criminal charge on allegations that 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 crippled his career amid the #MeToo movement.

A criminal complaint filed last month says the woman told police that Batali noticed her taking a picture of him at the restaurant and offered to take a selfie with her, The Boston Globe reported.

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Mario Batali out and about
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 25: Mario Batali attends Passion Play: How Jessica Alba and Mario Batali Created Multichannel Marvels during the Fast Company Innovation Festival at 92nd Street Y on October 25, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Craig Barritt/Getty Images for Fast Company)
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 15: Chef Mario Batali attends 6th Annual Mario Batali Foundation Honors dinner at Del Posto on October 15, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 15: Chef Mario Batali attends 6th Annual Mario Batali Foundation Honors dinner at Del Posto on October 15, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 14: Chef Mario Batali and television Ayesha Curry during Family Ice Cream Fun-dae hosted by Mario Batali and Ayesha Curry at Private Park at Hudson on October 14, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Monica Schipper/Getty Images for NYCWFF)
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 13: (L-R) Food and music writer Brooke Mazurek, musician Jarobi White, chef Mario Batali, and moderator Isabel Gonzalez-Whitaker, deputy editor of Billboard speak on the Chefs are Rock Stars and Rock Stars are Chefs panel at Southern Glazer's Wine & Spirits of New York Trade Tasting presented by Beverage Media Group, during the Food Network & Cooking Channel New York City Wine & Food Festival presented by Coca-Cola at Pier 94 on October 13, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images for NYCWFF)
THE CHEW - The hosts of 'The Chew' broadcast from Disney's Epcot Center in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. Yvette Nicole Brown is the guest on Friday, October 13th. 'The Chew' airs MONDAY - FRIDAY (1-2pm, ET) on the ABC Television Network. (Disney/Todd Anderson) MARIO BATALI, CLINTON KELLY
THE CHEW - The hosts of 'The Chew' broadcast from Disney's Epcot Center in Lake Buena Vista, Florida the week of October 9, 2017. 'The Chew' airs MONDAY - FRIDAY (1-2pm, ET) on the ABC Television Network. (Disney/Todd Anderson) MICHAEL SYMON, CARLA HALL, ISLA FISHER, CLINTON KELLY, MARIO BATALI
THE TONIGHT SHOW STARRING JIMMY FALLON -- Episode 0697 -- Pictured: (l-r) Chef Mario Batali during an interview with host Jimmy Fallon on June 21, 2017 -- (Photo by: Andrew Lipovsky/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 21: Chef Mario Batali and Susi Cahn are seen in NoHo on June 21, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by TheStewartofNY/GC Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 20: Chef Mario Batali arrives at EAT (RED) Food & Film Fest! at Bryant Park on June 20, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images for (Red))
THE CHEW - Larry the Cable Guy is the guest, Monday, June 19, 2017 on ABC's 'The Chew.' 'The Chew' airs MONDAY - FRIDAY (1-2pm, ET) on the ABC Television Network. (Photo by Heidi Gutman/ABC via Getty Images) MARIO BATALI
THE CHEW - Ali Wentworth is a guest on 'The Chew,' Tuesday, June 6, 2017. 'The Chew' airs MONDAY - FRIDAY (1-2pm, ET) on the ABC Television Network. (Photo by Lorenzo Bevilaqua/ABC via Getty Images) MARIO BATALI, ALI WENTWORTH
THE CHEW - Tituss Burgess is the guest Monday, May 22, 2017 on ABC's 'The Chew.' 'The Chew' airs MONDAY - FRIDAY (1-2pm, ET) on the ABC Television Network. (Photo by Jeff Neira/ABC via Getty Images) MARIO BATALI, DAPHNE OZ
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 22: Mario Batali and Mariska Hargitay attend The Joyful Revolution Gala In New York City hosted by Mariska Hargitay's Joyful Heart Foundation on May 22, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for Joyful Heart Foundation)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 11: Mario Batali attends the WITNESS 25th Anniversary Gala at The Edison Ballroom on May 11, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images)
THE CHEW - Jessica Seinfeld and Camilla Alves are the guests today, Tuesday, April 25, 2017 on ABC's 'The Chew.' 'The Chew' airs MONDAY - FRIDAY (1-2pm, ET) on the ABC Television Network. (Photo by Jeff Neira/ABC via Getty Images) CARLA HALL, MARIO BATALI
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 19: Mario Batali, Susi Cahn and Michael Symon attend 2017 Can-Do Awards at Cipriani Wall Street on April 19, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by John Lamparski/WireImage)
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The woman says Batali then 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.

A lawyer for Batali said the chef denies the allegations.

"The charges, brought by the same individual without any new basis, are without merit," Attorney Anthony Fuller said in an emailed statement. "He intends to fight the allegations vigorously and we expect the outcome to fully vindicate Mr. Batali," Fuller said.

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 "The Chew" in December 2017 after four women accused him of inappropriate touching.

Batali apologized that month, saying the allegations "match up" with ways he has acted.

"I have made many mistakes and I am so very sorry that I have disappointed my friends, my family, my fans and my team," Batali said in an email newsletter. "My behavior was wrong and there are no excuses. I take full responsibility."

The New York Police Department said last year that it was investigating allegations of sexual misconduct against the chef after a woman told "60 Minutes" that Batali drugged and sexually assaulted her in 2005. Batali denied assaulting the woman.

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