Updated: May 24, 2019 6:18 a.m.
On Friday, celebrity chef Mario Batali appeared in a Boston courtroom where a not-guilty plea was asked on his behalf to a criminal charge that he faces for forcibly groping and kissing a woman at a restaurant back in 2017.
Batali, 58, was wearing a baseball cap and blazer while ignoring questions from news sources on his way into and out of the Boston Municipal Court, where he was criticized after being charged with indecent assault and battery.
The criminal case is one of the first against Batali since the 2017 emergence of the #MeToo movement, which has since exposed widespread patterns of sexual harassment or abuse towards women in American. Since the campaign, many careers of powerful men in the media, politics, entertainment, and business have ended.
The woman who was assaulted told the police that in March 2017, Batali groped her breasts, buttocks, and groin then kissed her after posing with her for a photograph in a Boston restaurant, according to the complaint.
“The victim stated she was uncomfortable and that it was shocking to her that this was happening,” the complaint said.
As of now, the lawsuit the woman filed against Batali in August is still pending.
Batali eventually was released on the condition that he avoids contact with the alleged victim. At the request of Batali’s lawyer, a judge said that term would be waived should he need to testify in her lawsuit.
Batali, who sold his stakes in his U.S. restaurants this year following the accusations against him emerged, denies wrongdoing and “intends to fight the allegations vigorously,” Anthony Fuller, his lawyer, said in a statement.
If he is convicted, Batali will face up to 2-1/2 years behind bars.