Mario Batali pleaded not guilty Friday to a charge of indecent assault and battery in connection with a 2017 allegation that he grabbed and forcibly tried to kiss a woman at a Boston bar.
The celebrity chef, 58, was released on his own recognizance after appearing at the municipal court in Boston, where the judge ordered Batali to stay away from his accuser.
Batali nodded, but did not speak, the Associated Press reported.
The proceeding lasted only minutes. Batali is reportedly not obligated to appear at a subsequent hearing on July 12.
The charges stem from an alleged incident that took place on March 31, 2017, at the Towne Stove and Spirits restaurant in Boston. The woman claimed 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, as The Boston Globe reported.
The same woman filed a civil complaint against Batali in August, according to the outlet.
Batali’s lawyer shared a statement with Fox News on Monday, denying the assault charges and saying they were “without merit.”
“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.”
Lawyers for the woman, meanwhile, say Batali must be brought to justice.
“Mr. Batali must be held accountable criminally and civilly for his despicable acts,” attorneys Eric Baum and Matthew Fogelman said statement issued on Monday, per the Associated Press.
Earlier this year, two separate cases of alleged sexual misconduct on the part of Batali were closed in New York.
The Associated Press contributed to this article.