Mario Batali isn’t out of hot water just yet.
Despite saying in December that he was a “lucky man” following a “bad” 2018, the celebrity chef is now facing a criminal charge in connection with a 2017 sexual assault allegation.
This marks the first criminal charge following several allegations of sexual harassment, assault and misconduct on the part of Batali, 58, many of which emerged in late 2017 after the publication of a report in Eater detailing multiple accusations.
He is set to be arraigned in Boston Municipal Court on Friday, where he will be formally charged with indecent assault and battery.
This particular charge stems from an incident that allegedly took place on March 31, 2017, at the Towne Stove and Spirits restaurant in Boston. The victim claims she recognized Batali eating at the bar and attempted to take a photo, only for him to beckon her over and later attempt to kiss her while grabbing her chest and touching her groin, the Boston Globe reported.
The same woman had filed a civil complaint against Batali in August, the outlet reported.
Earlier this year, two separate cases of alleged sexual misconduct on the part of Batali were closed in New York.
Batali’s lawyer has since denied the assault charges stemming from the Boston allegations, saying they were “without merit.”
"He intends to fight the allegations vigorously and we expect the outcome to fully vindicate Mr. Batali.”
“Mr. Batali denies the allegations in both this criminal complaint and the civil complaint filed last August," stated Batali’s attorney Anthony Fuller in a statement shared with Fox News. "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.”
'It’s been a bad year'
In December, New York Magazine published a story of one reporter’s attempts to reach Batali for comment on the one-year anniversary of Eater’s bombshell report. The celebrity chef was ultimately located in Northport, Mich., where he reportedly owns a home with his family.
“I’m a lucky man,” Batali reportedly told New York Magazine’s Eric Konigsberg. “Well, it’s been a bad year, a bad year.”
“I’m not going to live my life in public anymore,” Batali told Konigsberg, adding that he planned to remain in Michigan until at least the end of 2018.
'Rape room’ accusations
Batali first announced he would be stepping away from the “day-to-day operations” of his entire restaurant group in December 2017, following Eater's initial report.
Batali issued an apology in response to Eater's piece, in which he said some of the allegations included therein "match up" with ways he had acted.
“I apologize to the people I have mistreated and hurt,” Batali said in a statement obtained by Eater. “Although the identities of most of the individuals mentioned in these stories have not been revealed to me, much of the behavior described does, in fact, match up with ways I have acted. That behavior was wrong and there are no excuses. I take full responsibility and am deeply sorry for any pain, humiliation or discomfort I have caused to my peers, employees, customers, friends and family."
"That behavior was wrong and there are no excuses. I take full responsibility and am deeply sorry for any pain, humiliation or discomfort I have caused to my peers, employees, customers, friends and family."
Additional accusations of inappropriate behavior surfaced in the following weeks, including accounts from a former Del Posto hostess who said Batali touched her breasts, and that of a former manager at celebrity hot-spot The Spotted Pig, in NYC, who claimed to have seen Batali grope and kiss a woman who appeared unconscious.
“We called him the Red Menace,” another former Spotted Pig employee told the New York Times in December 2017. “He tried to touch my breasts and told me that they were beautiful. He wanted to wrestle. As I was serving drinks to his table, he told me I should sit on his friend’s face.”
A woman who later spoke with “60 Minutes” of her own encounter with Batali said she believed she may have been drugged upon waking up in the third-floor dining area of the Spotted Pig — an area which had come to be known as the “rape room” among restaurant employees.
“I woke up by myself on the floor, I don’t know where I am, of an empty room, wooden floor,” the woman claimed in a March 2018 episode. “I see broken bottles. The first thing I think is,
‘I’ve been drugged.’ That was the first thing I thought is, ‘I’ve been — I’ve been assaulted.’”
The Spotted Pig’s owner, Ken Friedman, was also accused of sexual misconduct, and issued an apology for his own actions shortly afterward.
TV, business fallout
Amid the accusations, ABC relieved Batali of his co-hosting duties on ABC’s “The Chew,” and a revival of his “Molto Mario” series on the Food Network was canceled.
Eataly, a grocery chain Batali co-owned with former business partner Joe Bastianich, also sought to sever ties with the disgraced chef, confirming in December 2017 that his books, sauces, pastas, olive oils and vinegars were removed from store shelves. Bastianich told Eater the chain had replaced Batali’s products with those of his mother’s — famed chef and restaurateur Lidia Bastianich — as they continued to review “what’s best for the company.”
Walmart and Target announced plans to drop Batali’s products soon afterward. And the company that produced them for Batali in the first place — Summer Garden Foods — issued a statement announcing their “transition” away from the Batali brand, and confirmed that all proceeds from Batali-branded items will be donated to a nonprofit organization.
Batali was also expected to fully dissolve his partnership with the Bastianich family of restaurants in July 2018, which the celebrity chef first formed with Joe Bastianich twenty years earlier. That process proved to be “complex,” Bastianich had admitted, though Batali reportedly divested fully by March 2019.
“Not attempting a professional comeback”
In April 2018, the New York Times reported that Batali was “actively exploring” ideas for his future career, though Batali said he was “not attempting a professional comeback,” but rather a “personal path forward” in which he “can continue in my charitable endeavors.”
Fox News' Janine Puhak and Alexandra Deabler contributed to this report.