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Mario Batali faces criminal charge over alleged assault

Mario Batali, the celebrity chef who has been accused of sexual harassment and assault by multiple women, is now facing a criminal charge.

Batali will be arraigned on Friday on a charge of indecent assault and battery, The Associated Press reports. According to the criminal complaint, a woman alleges that in March 2017, she was taking a photo with Batali at a Boston restaurant when he grabbed her chest, The Boston Globe reports. She says he then began to kiss her and touch her groin without consent.

The New York Times notes that the allegation lines up with one previously made by Natali Tene, who in August filed a lawsuit against Batali.

“Without asking her permission or giving her any warning, and without having received any indication that she had any sexual interest in him whatsoever, which she did not, Batali sexually assaulted her," the woman's lawyers said in the civil complaint.

A lawyer for Batali said the charges are "without merit" and that he will "fight the allegations vigorously."

Batali first faced allegations of sexual misconduct from four women in an article published by Eater in December 2017, which led to his exit from the ABC show The Chew. Additional women later came forward with allegations of sexual assault. The New York Police Department last year investigated three allegations of sexual assault against Batali but closed its investigations in January, with two of the alleged incidents behind outside the statute of limitations and with police not obtaining enough evidence in the third investigation to bring a charge, the Times reports.

Batali, who has apologized for his past behavior but denied the allegations of assault, has since given up all of his restaurants.