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BOSTON (AP) — Celeb chef Mario Batali’s pandemic-delayed trial on sexual misconduct allegations opens Monday in Boston.

Batali pleaded not responsible to a cost of indecent assault and battery in 2019, stemming from accusations that he forcibly kissed and groped a girl after taking a selfie along with her at a Boston restaurant in 2017. The lady says Batali observed her photographing him and invited her to take one collectively, then touched and kissed her repeatedly with out her consent.

If convicted, Batali might resist 2 1/2 years in jail and be required to register as a intercourse offender. He’s anticipated to be in court docket all through the proceedings, which ought to final about two days as soon as jury choice is full, mentioned Suffolk County District Lawyer Kevin Hayden’s workplace.

Legal professionals for Batali didn’t remark forward of the beginning of jury choice Monday in Boston Municipal Courtroom. The chef’s attorneys have beforehand mentioned the cost is with out advantage.

His accuser has additionally filed a civil lawsuit in opposition to Batali searching for unspecified damages for “extreme emotional misery” that’s nonetheless pending in Suffolk County Superior Courtroom in Boston. Her lawyer didn’t reply to emails Friday.

Batali is amongst various high-profile males who’ve confronted a public reckoning through the #MeToo social motion in opposition to sexual abuse and harassment in recent times.

The 61-year-old was as soon as a Meals Community fixture on exhibits like “Molto Mario” and “Iron Chef America.” However the ponytail- and orange Croc-wearing character’s high-flying profession crumbled amid sexual misconduct allegations.

4 ladies accused him of inappropriate touching in 2017, after which he stepped down from day-to-day operations at his restaurant empire and left the since-discontinued ABC cooking present “The Chew.”

Batali has provided an apology, acknowledging the allegations “match up” with methods he has acted.

“I’ve made many errors and I’m so very sorry that I’ve upset my mates, my household, my followers and my group,” he mentioned in an e mail e-newsletter on the time. “My conduct was incorrect and there aren’t any excuses. I take full duty.”

Final yr, Batali, his enterprise accomplice and their New York Metropolis restaurant firm agreed to pay $600,000 to resolve a four-year investigation by the New York legal professional common’s workplace into allegations that Batali, restaurant managers and different staff sexually harassed workers.

In Boston, he opened a department of the favored Italian meals market Eataly within the downtown Prudential Middle in 2016 in addition to a Babbo Pizzeria e Enoteca within the metropolis’s Seaport District in 2015.

Batali has since been purchased out of his stake in Eataly, which nonetheless has dozens of areas worldwide together with in Boston, and the Babbo restaurant within the metropolis has since closed.

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