Batali appeared in a Boston courtroom Friday sans his signature orange Crocs. He seemed despondent in a blazer, jeans and Yeezy sneakers.
It is the first charge brought against the chef after several women accused him of misconduct during the #MeToo movement. The charges relates to allegations made by a woman who said Batali groped her and forcibly kissed her in March 2017. The woman had filed a civil lawsuit against Batali in August, and the suit has reportedly not yet been resolved.
The woman has been identified as 29-year-old Natalie Tene. In the civil suit, she called the incident "dehumanizing and humiliating."
Batali did not speak to reporters as he left the courthouse, but in a statement to CBS News, his lawyer said the charge is "without merit" and that the team expects to "fully vindicate" him.
The chef responded to the allegations against him in a lengthy 2017 statement, saying, "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."
Batali's empire included restaurants and businesses across the world, and he gained fans from appearing on the Food Network. But he stepped down from running his restaurants in 2017 after the allegations surfaced. He was also kicked off the ABC food-focused talk show "The Chew," which he co-hosted.
In March, Batali said he had been bought out of his shares of his restaurants.