Mario Batali pleads not guilty to assault charge
By Alanna Durkin Richer, May 24, 2019
BOSTON (AP) — Celebrity chef Mario Batali, whose career crumbled amid several sexual misconduct accusations, pleaded not guilty Friday to a charge that he forcibly kissed and groped a woman at a Boston restaurant in 2017.
Batali, 58, wearing his signature red ponytail and a blazer, did not speak during the brief hearing but nodded as the judge ordered him to stay away from the woman.
The court entered a not guilty plea on his behalf to a charge of indecent assault and battery. Batali was released on his own recognizance. He will not have to appear at the next hearing, scheduled for July 12.
It’s the first criminal charge levied against Batali following sexual harassment and assault allegations that first surfaced in 2017.
The woman says Batali noticed her taking a photo of him at the restaurant and invited her to take a selfie with him. She says Batali then groped and kissed her repeatedly without her consent.
The woman filed a civil lawsuit against Batali in August, seeking unspecified damages for “severe emotional distress.”
Batali’s lawyer has said the charge is “without merit.”
Batali could face up to 2 1/2 years in jail, if convicted. He would also have to register as a sex offender. Read more.