Celebrity chef to face charges for alleged indecent assault

Celebrity chef Mario Batali faces arraignment Friday in Boston Municipal Court on a charge of indecent assault and battery in connection with an incident at a Back Bay restaurant on March 31, 2017.

Batali, who stepped away from his restaurant empire amid several accusations from women in March, allegedly kissed and groped a woman against her will in a restaurant in the Back Bay.

This will be the first criminal charge Batali has faced after a number of claims of sexual misconduct were made against him.

“Mr. Batali denies the allegations in both this criminal complaint and the civil complaint filed last August,” Anthony Fuller, Batali’s lawyer, told ABC News 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.”

The March 2017 assault allegedly occurred at Towne Stove and Spirits on Boston’s famous Boylston Street.

PHOTO: In this Wednesday, April 19, 2017, file photo, chef Mario Batali attends an awards event in New York.Photo by Brent N. Clarke/Invision/AP

In this Wednesday, April 19, 2017, file photo, chef Mario Batali attends an awards event in New York.

The same woman filed a lawsuit against Batali last year, alleging she asked the chef for a photo and he tried to kiss her, put his hands between her legs and groped her breasts, according to Boston ABC affiliate WCVB.

The New York Police Department investigated two alleged sexual assaults by the chef, but ultimately the district attorney did not press charges.

A woman claimed Batali raped her at one of his restaurants in January 2004. A second woman told the television news magazine “60 Minutes” that Batali sexually assaulted her at the Spotted Pig, his West Village restaurant, in 2005.

Former partner Joe Bastianich announced Batali was “fully divested” of the pair’s restaurant empire in March.

“We wanted to let you all know that Mario is now fully divested from our businesses,” Bastianich and sister Tanya Bastianich Manuali said in a letter to employees. “This week, we acquired all of his interests in our restaurants.”

In December 2017, Batali was asked to leave ABC’s “The Chew” and he offered to step away from the day-to-day operations of his restaurant group.

ABC News’ Alyssa Acquavella contributed to this report.