Mario Batali faces criminal charge in alleged Boston groping incident

The celebrity chef already faces a civil lawsuit

By Sonia Moghe, CNN
Michael Loccisano/Getty Images

Celebrity chef Mario Batali

(CNN) - Celebrity chef Mario Batali is facing a criminal charge in Boston after a woman reported that he groped her in March 2017.

Batali is facing an indecent assault and battery charge in connection with an alleged incident on March 31, 2017 at a restaurant in Boston's Back Bay neighborhood, the Suffolk County District Attorney's Office said Wednesday in an email.

The celebrity chef is expected to be arraigned on Friday at Boston Municipal Court, the Suffolk County District Attorney's Office said.

Natali Tene's attorneys said in a statement Thursday their client is "grateful that the Suffolk County District Attorney's office... has chosen to go forward in prosecuting" Batali, and noted that the criminal charges against him are independent of Tene's lawsuit against the celebrity chef.

CNN previously reported on the lawsuit, in which Tene claimed that Batali rubbed her breasts, kissed her repeatedly and groped her buttocks and groin area after he spotted her taking photos of him, and offered to take a selfie with her, according to the complaint.

"Batali's actions were without warning or permission, were unwanted and disgusting and made Ms. Tene feel shocked and highly uncomfortable," the complaint states.

Tene has asked for damages to be awarded to her "in an amount determined by the Court."

Batali denies the charges

Batali's attorney said the celebrity chef denies the allegations in both the criminal and civil complaint.

"The charges, brought by the same individual without any new basis, are without merit," said attorney Anthony Fuller, partner at Hogan Lovells law firm. "He intends to fight the allegations vigorously and we expect the outcome to fully vindicate Mr. Batali."

In December 2017, restaurant news website Eater published a report in which four unnamed women, some of whom worked for Batali, claimed the chef touched them inappropriately "in a pattern of behavior that appears to span at least two decades."

In a later statement to CNN, Batali said he was "deeply sorry" and he apologized "to the people I have mistreated and hurt."

"That behavior was wrong and there are no excuses," he said.

Batali left his ABC daytime series "The Chew" in light of the allegations. The Food Network also halted its plans to bring Batali back to its programming lineup.

Batali's restaurant group ended its partnership with him in May 2018 after allegations of sexual misconduct against him prompted a police investigation.

CNN's Darran Simon and Sandra Gonzalez contributed to this report.

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