(NBC News) A crush of cameras engulfed celebrity chef and restaurateur Mario Batali Friday moments after he faced a judge for the first time on charges of indecent assault and battery.
Batali pleaded not guilty.
The charge comes after a woman accused Batali of grabbing her breast, buttocks and groin, and forcibly kissing her while they took selfies at a Boston restaurant in 2017.
She has also filed a civil lawsuit.
“The key will be any corroborating evidence. Whether that’s surveillance video or other witnesses who were there that night,” says legal analyst Danny Cevallos.
Batali left his restaurant empire, which included the chain of “Eataly” Italian markets, and stopped making TV appearances in 2017 when at least four women came forward to accuse him of sexual misconduct.
He issued an apology at the time, without addressing the specific allegations, saying “My behavior was wrong, and there are no excuses.”
In response to the new criminal charge, Batali’s attorney says the accusations “are without merit” and “He intends to fight the allegations vigorously and we expect the outcome to fully vindicate Mr. Batali.”