NEW YORK (CBS NEWS) – Celebrity chef Mario Batali was abruptly removed from his role as co-host of “The Chew” on Monday amid sexual harassment allegations that span over a period of at least 20 years. A spokesperson with ABC said the company has asked Batali to step away from the show while the allegations are investigated.

The website Eater New York reports four women have accused Batali of inappropriate behavior while working for him or encountering him at industry events. The women describe numerous incidents of Batali grabbing their behinds, pressing is body up against them or groping their chests.

mario batali 538707766 Chef Mario Batali Accused Of Sexual Harassment

Chef Mario Batali welcomes summer with Cointreau cocktails event at La Sirena on June 7, 2016 in New York City. (credit: Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for Cointreau)

A spokesperson for Batali & Bastianich Hospitality Group says an employee reported inappropriate behavior by Batali in October. The company told Eater it was the first formal complaint against Batali and that he was reprimanded and required to attend training.

The restaurateur released a statement in response to the allegations, which reads in part: “I apologize to the people I have mistreated and hurt. Although the identities of most of the individuals mentioned in these stories have not been revealed to me, much of the behavior described does, in fact, match up with ways I have acted.”

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