Image: via Getty

Mario Batali has been criminally charged with indecent assault and battery, stemming from a 2017 incident in which he allegedly kissed and groped a woman without her consent in Boston in 2017. Though Batali has been the subject of a multiple assault and harassment accusations, this is the first time he has faced criminal charges.

According to the Boston Globe, the celebrity chef and former restaurant magnate will be arraigned in Boston Municipal Court on Friday, on charges of indecent assault and battery. According to a criminal complaint, an unidentified woman was dining at a restaurant near Batali’s Eataly outpost in Boston in March 2017 when she spotted him and started taking his picture. He motioned her over and offered to take a selfie with her, according to the court documents, and that’s when he allegedly assaulted her:

As she stood next to his bar stool, Batali put his arm around the woman and then grabbed her chest, she told police. He then allegedly started kissing her face and touching her groin without her consent, records show.

The woman said she stopped taking photos and pulled away from Batali. She said he kept “pulling on her face” and asked her if she wanted to join him in his hotel room nearby at the Mandarin Oriental, adding that Batali seemed intoxicated “by the smell and half closed eyes,” according to the criminal complaint.

Advertisement

The woman managed to get away from Batali and left the restaurant with a friend. Last summer, she filed a civil complaint against Batali, but has now brought criminal charges against him. Batali’s attorneys claim the charges are “without merit.”

In December 2017, Eater reported on four women who accused Batali of “inappropriate touching”; by March of this year, that number had swelled up to about 18, and Batali surrendered all of his restaurants. A year ago, the NYPD opened a criminal investigation into Batali, but closed it in January, citing lack of evidence.

Advertisement

In Boston, though, Batali’s a little less lucky. And if he’s convicted on these charges, Batali could face up to 2.5 years in jail, in addition to having to register as a sex offender.