Women accuse star Oakland chef of sexual harassment

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- Nine women stepped into the spotlight and appeared on camera Tuesday at a press conference, all accusing star Oakland chef Charlie Hallowell of "abuse of power."

They spoke of "disgusting and sexually lewd comments," and, "women being evaluated by body and appearance" at Hallowell's three Oakland restaurants. Worker Sydney Skorich said she would warn new hires about his "handsey ways."

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Civil rights lawyer Mika Hilaire, representing the women, demanded that Hallowell immediately divest himself of ownership in the restaurants, saying a leave of absence was not OK.

Immediately following that press conference, Hallowell's attorneys staged a press conference of their own to announce that Hallowell was on a six-month leave of absence and that a new woman COO had been hired to oversee the popular restaurants.

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Attorney Yasmeen Omidi says Hallowell has admitted his behavior was inappropriate and is now committed to "repairing the damage." Seven managers at the Boot and Shoe Service restaurant on Grand Ave. resigned in the last ten days after employees accused Hallowell of sexual harassment.

One hundred-fifty employees currently work at Hallowell's three Oakland restaurants Boot and Shoe Service, Pizzaiola, and Penrose. Thirty have signed a letter supporting him and 55 have spoken with investigators. As of now no lawsuits have been filed.

Click here for a look at the most recent allegations of sexual misconduct here in the Bay Area and across the country.

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