Celebrity chef Mario Batali was found not guilty of indecent assault and battery during his sexual misconduct trial on Tuesday
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Celebrity chef Mario Batali was found not guilty of indecent assault and battery during his sexual misconduct trial in Boston on Tuesday.

Batali, 61, who had elected for a non-jury trial, was acquitted by of the charged which stemmed from a woman who accused Batali of sexually assaulting her at a Boston bar in 2017 while he posed with her for a selfie.

The 32-year-old Massachusetts resident was one of a handful of women who accused Batali of sexual harassment and misconduct amid the #MeToo movement, which exposed widespread patterns of abuse of women in multiple spheres of American life.  

Judge James Stanton of Boston Municipal Court found Batali not guilty of the charge brought on in 2019, saying his accuser had ‘significant credibility issues’ after the defense revealed she claimed to be clairvoyant, joked about the alleged assault with her friend and continued to dine at the restaurant where she was allegedly attacked.

Batali left the courtroom surrounded by reporters without making a comment. If convicted, Batali could have faced up to 2-1/2 years in jail and registration as a sex offender. 

Despite rumors about Batali’s alleged misconduct having circulated for decades, this trial was the only criminal case brought against the chef, once a fixture of the popular Food Network and a star of the ABC cooking and talk show The Chew.

Celebrity chef Mario Batali was found not guilty of indecent assault and battery during his sexual misconduct trial on Tuesday

Celebrity chef Mario Batali was found not guilty of indecent assault and battery during his sexual misconduct trial on Tuesday

Batali, who had elected for a non-jury trial, was acquitted by of the charged which stemmed from a woman who accused Batali of sexually assaulting her at a Boston bar in 2017 while he posed with her for a selfie. The selfie is pictured above

Batali, who had elected for a non-jury trial, was acquitted by of the charged which stemmed from a woman who accused Batali of sexually assaulting her at a Boston bar in 2017 while he posed with her for a selfie. The selfie is pictured above

Mario Batali walks outside Boston Municipal Court on Tuesday following his not guilty verdict

Mario Batali walks outside Boston Municipal Court on Tuesday following his not guilty verdict

Mario Batali reacts after being found not guilty of indecent assault and battery at Boston Municipal Court on Tuesday, the second day of his sexual misconduct trial

Mario Batali reacts after being found not guilty of indecent assault and battery at Boston Municipal Court on Tuesday, the second day of his sexual misconduct trial

In the trial, his accuser testified on Monday that Batali forcibly groped her breasts, buttocks and crotch area before inviting her back to his hotel room while drunkenly posing for selfies with her at a bar near Boston’s Eataly, the Italian market and restaurant he at the time part owned.

‘It all happened so fast,’ the 32-year-old testified on Monday, the first day of Batali’s trial. ‘Essentially the whole time there was touching of my sensitive feminine areas.’

The woman said was initially ‘shocked’ and ’embarrassed’ about the incident and came forward only after the website Eater.com in December 2017 detailed allegations by four women who also said Batali had touched them inappropriately over at least two decades.

‘I want to be able to take control of what happened and come forward, say my piece, get the truth out there – and everybody be accountable for their actions,’ she testified.

Batali’s lawyer, Anthony Fuller, countered that the assault never occurred. 

Fuller accused the woman of fabricating the assault with ‘self-serving, biased testimony’ in order to ‘cash in’ with her pending civil lawsuit against the chef seeking more than $50,000 in damages.

‘She lied for fun and she lied for money,’ Fuller told the judge in closing arguments.

However, prosecutor Nina Bonelli countered that case was never about money and that the accuser decided to come forward after reading the stories of other alleged victims.

‘[She] realized she wasn’t alone,’ Bonelli told the judge. ‘[She] couldn’t be silent anymore, and she spoke up. And that was and is her motive.’

Batali listens to the evidence presented during the second day of his sexual misconduct trial

Batali listens to the evidence presented during the second day of his sexual misconduct trial

Mario Batali arrives at Boston Municipal Court for his sexual misconduct trial on Tuesday. He was charged with indecent assault and battery for allegedly groping a woman in 2017. He was found not guilty

Mario Batali arrives at Boston Municipal Court for his sexual misconduct trial on Tuesday. He was charged with indecent assault and battery for allegedly groping a woman in 2017. He was found not guilty

Batali is surrounded by reporters as he departs Boston Municipal Court following the verdict of his sexual misconduct trial

Batali is surrounded by reporters as he departs Boston Municipal Court following the verdict of his sexual misconduct trial

Fuller sought to undermine her credibility by questioning her about text messages with a friend in which she joked about meeting Batali and discussed selling her photos.

‘Oh wow, I have a good story for you,’ Fuller said, reading aloud a text message the accuser sent her friend on December 11, 2017. The message included a picture of Batali.

The text continued with the accuser saying: ‘He assaulted me.’ 

‘Be like, I have a pimp and I want to be compensated,’ the woman’s friend replied.

‘Yeah right,’ the accuser replied. ‘Like, is that how it works?’

Fuller questioned why the woman joked about the alleged assault.

‘I definitely present myself in some of these text messages as being very flippant, making it seem like it’s not a big deal, in this message of texts,’ she told Fuller. ‘But it’s a pretty serious thing.’

Batali is seen smiling after the judge announced the verdict of his sexual misconduct trial

Batali is seen smiling after the judge announced the verdict of his sexual misconduct trial

Batali walks outside Boston Municipal Court following his not guilty verdict

Batali walks outside Boston Municipal Court following his not guilty verdict

Batali and defense attorney Anthony Fuller are followed by press as they leave Boston Municipal Court on Tuesday

Batali and defense attorney Anthony Fuller are followed by press as they leave Boston Municipal Court on Tuesday

The defense, trying to poke holes in the timeline of the woman’s allegations, pointed out that, according to her phone records, she never claimed Batali assaulted her until she read an article detailing allegations from other women. 

‘Pay me $10K or I post them all,’ Fuller read in court, claiming she sent that text on December 11, 2017.

‘You wanted to get paid for the pictures. That was your first reaction when you saw the article, right?’ he questioned. 

‘That’s how I thought this worked,’ she replied. ‘I had never been assaulted – I shouldn’t say that. I never knew what to do when a celebrity violates you.’

Further messages revealed the woman talked to her friend about suing the chef.

‘Well at least we will get some excitement about suing Mario Batali, thankfully,’ the accuser wrote on December 12, 2017 to her friend.

‘F*** yes! Take them all down. 2017, the year we get every last one of these f***s,’ the friend responded before asking if the accuser tried coordinating with the other accusers.

The accuser then allegedly told her friend she emailed a reporter to share her story.

Her friend advised her to withhold the photos so the reporter wouldn’t use them without compensating her and said ‘just play up the story.’ 

She responded: ‘Omg queen, of course.’

Batali’s accuser denied having any recollection of sending the messages, but admitted she clearly did. 

Boston Municipal Court Judge James Stanton is pictured in court Tuesday. He found Batali not guilty of indecent assault and battery after alleging his accuser had 'significant credibility issues'

Boston Municipal Court Judge James Stanton is pictured in court Tuesday. He found Batali not guilty of indecent assault and battery after alleging his accuser had ‘significant credibility issues’

Despite rumors about Batali's alleged misconduct having circulated for decades, the May 2022 trial was the only criminal case brought against the chef. Batali is pictured at the Food Bank for New York City Can-Do Awards Dinner in April 2017

Despite rumors about Batali’s alleged misconduct having circulated for decades, the May 2022 trial was the only criminal case brought against the chef. Batali is pictured at the Food Bank for New York City Can-Do Awards Dinner in April 2017

The defense also revealed bank records showing the accuser dined at Eataly weeks after the event.

‘You go to the restaurant of the guy who you claimed brutally assaulted you?’ Fuller questioned. ‘That doesn’t make sense.’

The woman said she didn’t recall going to Eataly and maintained she isn’t speaking out for financial gain. 

She also strongly pushed back at Fuller for questioning why none of the many photos taken with Batali that night showed the alleged assault.

The woman said the photos were all taken relatively close up and didn’t show how Batali, who she said was visibly drunk, was grabbing her private areas, touching her face and even sticking his tongue in her ear. She said he also invited her up to his hotel room afterward, which she declined.

‘I have never been touched before like that,’ the woman said. ‘Squeezing my vagina to pull me closer to him, as if that’s a normal way to grab someone.’

Defense attorney Anthony Fuller argued Batali's accuser isn't a credible witness. He is pictured Tuesday during his closing arguments

Defense attorney Anthony Fuller argued Batali’s accuser isn’t a credible witness. He is pictured Tuesday during his closing arguments

Batali is pictured departing the Boston Municipal Court on Tuesday following his trial

Batali is pictured departing the Boston Municipal Court on Tuesday following his trial

But Fuller argued the accuser isn’t a credible witness. He honed in on her recent admission of attempting to avoid jury service by claiming to be clairvoyant. 

She was also accused in that case of violating the judge’s orders to keep an open mind and not discuss the case with others. In court on Monday, however, she maintained that she can predict major events before they happen ‘to a certain extent.’

Batali opted not to testify during the trial.

Soon after the website Eater.com report, Batali was fired from The Chew and later cut ties with restaurants including New York’s Babbo and Del Posto that he partly owned. 

He denied allegations of sexual assault but apologized for ‘deeply inappropriate’ behavior.

‘I have made many mistakes and I am so very sorry that I have disappointed my friends, my family, my fans and my team,’ he said in an email newsletter at the time. ‘My behavior was wrong and there are no excuses. I take full responsibility.’ 

Last July, Batali and his former business partner agreed to pay $600,000 to at least 20 former employees to resolve claims by New York’s attorney general that their Manhattan restaurants were rife with sexual harassment.

The 2017 explosion of the #MeToo movement exposed patterns of sexual harassment or abuse of women in multiple spheres of American life. U.S. celebrities convicted in #MeToo-era criminal trials have included film producer Harvey Weinstein and comedian Bill Cosby, though Cosby’s conviction was overturned on appeal.

From cooking at the White House to the court in Boston: How Croc-wearing celebrity chef Mario Batali, 61, fell from TV icon to #MeToo scandal

Rumors about celebrity chef Mario Batali’s alleged misconduct have circulated for decades but it wasn’t until 2017, when a slew of women accused him of assault, that his successful career started crashing down.

Batali, 61, was once a Food Network fixture on shows like ‘Molto Mario’ and ‘Iron Chef America.’ But the ponytail-sporting and Croc-wearing personality’s high-flying career crumbled amid sexual misconduct allegations. 

He has now been found not guilty by a jury at Boston Municipal Court after being accused by a female fan who said he forcibly kissed and groped her at a Boston restaurant in 2017.

The 32-year-old Massachusetts resident was one of a handful of women who accused Batali of sexual harassment and misconduct amid the #MeToo movement, which exposed widespread patterns of abuse of women in multiple spheres of American life.

The woman’s claims formed the basis of the only criminal case to result from the various allegation against Batali.

Rumors about celebrity chef Mario Batali's alleged misconduct have circulated for decades but it wasn't until 2017, when a slew of women accused him of assault, that his successful career started crashing down. He is pictured at his arraignment on a charge of indecent assault and batter in May 2019

Rumors about celebrity chef Mario Batali’s alleged misconduct have circulated for decades but it wasn’t until 2017, when a slew of women accused him of assault, that his successful career started crashing down. He is pictured at his arraignment on a charge of indecent assault and batter in May 2019

Batali, originally of Seattle, was one of America’s most celebrated chefs and beloved television personalities.

The chef opened six highly successful restaurants in New York City – including Esca, Del Posto and Babbo Ristorante e Enoteca in Greenwich Village – and a partial owner in Italian chain Eataly.

At his peak, Batali’s food industry empire was worth an estimated $250 million. He and his former business partner Joe Bastianich were involved with dozens of restaurants and food businesses in the U.S., Italy, Singapore and Hong Kong.

Batali, who had cooked at the White House for the Obamas, also hosted a variety of shows including Food Network’s Molto Mario and the PBS series Spain…On the Road Again. He also made several appearances as a competitor on Iron Chef America. 

He was the recipient of many awards, including being named GQ Magazine’s Man of the Year, in the chef category, in 1999.

He won the James Beard Foundation awards for Best Chef: New York City and Outstanding Chef of the Year in 2002 and 2005, respectively. In 2001, the he was the recipient of the foundation’s prestigious lifetime achievement award, Who’s Who of Food & Beverage in America.

Batali (pictured in 2010) was once a Food Network fixture on shows like 'Molto Mario' and 'Iron Chef America.' But the ponytail-sporting and Croc-wearing personality's high-flying career crumbled amid sexual misconduct allegations

Batali (pictured in 2010) was once a Food Network fixture on shows like ‘Molto Mario’ and ‘Iron Chef America.’ But the ponytail-sporting and Croc-wearing personality’s high-flying career crumbled amid sexual misconduct allegations

Mario Batali, 61, arrived at the Boston Municipal Courthouse on Monday wearing Crocs for his sexual misconduct trial

Mario Batali, 61, arrived at the Boston Municipal Courthouse on Monday wearing Crocs for his sexual misconduct trial

However, Batali’s accolades and professional successes took a nosedive in December 2017 when Eater.com detailed allegations by four women who said Batali touched them inappropriately over at least two decades. 

The article, which was published while Batali was co-hosting The Chew, outlined allegations of sexual harassment towards his employees and fellow chefs. 

The women cited alleged instances of groping, close-contact touching and an instance where he ‘compelled [a woman] to straddle him.’ 

The Eater report, among others, prompted ABC to fire Batali from The Chew, a cooking and talk show. He also stepped down from day-to-day operations at his restaurant empire and later cut ties with restaurants he partly owned, like New York’s Babbo and Del Posto.

Food Network immediately froze Molto Mario despite having ordered six additional episodes of the show. Production insiders alleged the episodes had already been filmed and were set to air in 2018.

Although he denied the allegations of sexual assault, the chef also issued an apology for his ‘deeply inappropriate’ behavior and acknowledged the accusations ‘match up’ with ways he has acted.

‘That behavior was wrong, and there are no excuses,’ he said at the time. ‘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 was one of America's most celebrated chefs and beloved television personalities. His food industry empire was worth an estimated $250 million at its peak. The chef, pictured in October 2016, also cooked at the White House for the Obamas

Batali was one of America’s most celebrated chefs and beloved television personalities. His food industry empire was worth an estimated $250 million at its peak. The chef, pictured in October 2016, also cooked at the White House for the Obamas

Batali is pictured alongside former President Bill Clinton at a New York City Food Bank awards dinner in April 2017

Batali is pictured alongside former President Bill Clinton at a New York City Food Bank awards dinner in April 2017

He was the recipient of many awards, including being named GQ Magazine's Man of the Year, in the chef category, in 1999. Batali is pictured promoting his Big American Cookbook in 2016

He was the recipient of many awards, including being named GQ Magazine’s Man of the Year, in the chef category, in 1999. Batali is pictured promoting his Big American Cookbook in 2016

The Eater article – which was published on December 11, 2017 – prompted negative response from other industry members.

Chef Anthony Bourdain, whose partner Asia Argento, was one of the many women who accused Harvey Weinstein of sexual assault, took to Twitter addressing the allegations against Batali.

‘It’s Batali. And it’s bad,’ Bourdain tweeted at the time, adding that he had been in the industry cooking business for nearly 20 years but ‘only started hearing s** a few weeks ago’.

Fellow Chef Tom Colicchio shared Bourdain’s tweet, saying: ‘And no one should be surprised.’

The Eater article - which was published on December 11, 2017 - prompted negative response from other industry members

The Eater article – which was published on December 11, 2017 – prompted negative response from other industry members

The next day, on December 12, 2017, further allegations against Batali were made public by The Washington Post. At this point, nine women had made claims against the chef.

The newspaper article detailed the testimony of Holly Gunderson, who served as the special events director at Batali’s Los Angeles restaurant Osteria Mozza.

Gunderson claimed Batali made drunken advances towards her during the week of the 2010 Academy Awards, a very busy time for the establishment.

‘I want to see you naked in my hot tub back in the hotel,’ Batali told Gunderson as she was escorting him to greet his guests, she alleged.

Gunderson claimed bystanders ‘looked at me like, ‘Oh my God, I can’t believe he said that about you.”

She also alleged that Batali put his hand ‘between my legs, up and under, so his hand went on my vagina outside of my clothes. And then he moved his hand backward. So, you know, under my butt. And then continued walking.’

Gunderson said she didn’t take action against Batali because she was so surprised by the alleged assault. 

The chef issued a statement to the paper saying: ‘I take full responsibility for my deplorable actions and am deeply sorry for any pain, humiliation, or anguish I caused.’ 

Batali's accolades and professional successes took a nosedive in December 2017 when Eater.com detailed allegations by four women who said Batali touched them inappropriately over at least two decades. Batali is pictured in August 2010 at Eataly's grand opening in NYC

Batali’s accolades and professional successes took a nosedive in December 2017 when Eater.com detailed allegations by four women who said Batali touched them inappropriately over at least two decades. Batali is pictured in August 2010 at Eataly’s grand opening in NYC

The Eater report, among others, prompted ABC to fire Batali from The Chew, a cooking and talk show. He is pictured on the show in October 2017

The Eater report, among others, prompted ABC to fire Batali from The Chew, a cooking and talk show. He is pictured on the show in October 2017

After the first women came forward, the allegations against Batali started to flood.

In May 2018 a group of Batali’s former employees, who worked at The Spotted Pig in New York City, appeared on an episode of 60 Minutes and claimed he harassed and assaulted them.

Two women claimed he assaulted them while they were unconscious, including one who claims she spoke with a detective with the New York Police Department’s Special Victims Division who encouraged her to file a report.

The women declined to file the police report, fearing repercussions at her workplace. According to the news outlet, due to this choice, the woman’s rape kit was never processed and the hospital records were expunged.

Batali, in wake of the interview, issued a statement saying: ‘I vehemently deny the allegation that I sexually assaulted this woman.’

The day after the 60 Minutes segment, The New York Times reported that police were investigating another complaint against Batali.

The woman, whose story had not yet been reported, told the Times the chef had raped her at his restaurant Babbo in 2004.

Batali ‘vehemently denied’ the allegations that he ‘engaged in any nonconsensual sex’.

In response to the May allegations, the Batali and Bastianich Hospitality Group ousted Batali from the company.

The group announced on May 22, 2018 it was ‘actively negotiating with Mr. Batali to buy his interests in the restaurants’ and wanted him removed by July 1.

Three days later Joe Bastianich confirmed three of Batali’s Las Vegas restaurants – Carnevino Italian Steakhouse, B&B Ristorante and Otto Enoteca e Pizzeria – would close on July 27.

‘These restaurants have continued to succeed, and they are a tribute to every one of you who works in them and brings great dining experiences to our guests,’ Bastianich wrote in a statement at the time. ‘Unfortunately, our partner in these restaurants, Las Vegas Sands Corp., has decided to end our relationship.’

Batali and Ayesha Curry are pictured during at a Family Ice Cream Fun-dae event in New York City in October 2017

Batali and Ayesha Curry are pictured during at a Family Ice Cream Fun-dae event in New York City in October 2017

Carla Hall, Mario Batali, John Leguizamo, Michael Symon and Clinton Kelly appear on an October 2017 episode of The Chew. The stars are pictured left to right

Carla Hall, Mario Batali, John Leguizamo, Michael Symon and Clinton Kelly appear on an October 2017 episode of The Chew. The stars are pictured left to right

In May 2019, Batali appeared in a Boston courtroom and plead not guilty to a criminal assault charge of indecent assault and battery. The charged stemmed from allegations that he forcibly groped and kissed a woman at a restaurant in 2017. He is pictured at his May 2019 arraignment

In May 2019, Batali appeared in a Boston courtroom and plead not guilty to a criminal assault charge of indecent assault and battery. The charged stemmed from allegations that he forcibly groped and kissed a woman at a restaurant in 2017. He is pictured at his May 2019 arraignment

On May 30, 2018 Eater published another article sharing the stories of seven more women who claimed to be assaulted by Batali, including that of the plaintiff in Batali’s sexual misconduct trial. 

The woman, who was named in the article but has since requested anonymity, claims Batali drunkenly assaulted her shortly after midnight on April 1, 2017, while posing with her for selfies at a bar in Boston.

The woman alleged Batali forcibly kissed her, grabbed her private areas, touched her face and even stuck his tongue in her ear. She filed a lawsuit against Batali in August 2018.

Eater also published video clips and photos that allegedly supported the accusations made by the seven women.

Batali declined to comment for the article and, to date, only one of the women’s claims have resulted in trial.

In May 2019, Batali appeared in a Boston courtroom and plead not guilty to a criminal assault charge of indecent assault and battery.

The charged stemmed from allegations that he forcibly groped and kissed a woman at a restaurant in 2017. 

At the time, Batali denied wrongdoing and said he ‘intends to fight the allegations vigorously.’ 

His trial was delayed until May 2022, due to the coronavirus pandemic. Batali still maintains his innocence.

In August 2019, likely in response to his trial, Eataly purchased Batali’s minority interest, formally ending their relationship with the chef. Batali did not have any direct involvement with the restaurant chain since December 2017 and had already given up financial stakes in all his restaurants.

(Left to right) Adam Saper, Alex Saper, Eric Garcetti, Nicola Farinetti, Mario Batali, Valentina Gambelunghe, Dino Borri, Sophia Bush and Marino Monferrato attend Eataly Los Angeles Grand Opening Celebration at Eataly LA on November 3, 2017 in Los Angeles

(Left to right) Adam Saper, Alex Saper, Eric Garcetti, Nicola Farinetti, Mario Batali, Valentina Gambelunghe, Dino Borri, Sophia Bush and Marino Monferrato attend Eataly Los Angeles Grand Opening Celebration at Eataly LA on November 3, 2017 in Los Angeles

Batali is currently on trial in Boston Municipal Court over accusations from a female fan who said he forcibly kissed and groped her at a Boston restaurant in 2017. He is pictured in court on Monday

Batali is currently on trial in Boston Municipal Court over accusations from a female fan who said he forcibly kissed and groped her at a Boston restaurant in 2017. He is pictured in court on Monday

Mario Batali is pictured walking into his sexual misconduct trial in Boston on Monday

Mario Batali is pictured walking into his sexual misconduct trial in Boston on Monday

New York launched an investigation into Batali in January 2020 after a business associate of his agreed to compensate former employees over sexual harassment allegations. 

The state attorney general’s probe of restaurateur Ken Friedman had unearthed information regarding Batali’s alleged behavior at The Spotted Pig.

Friedman, the majority owner of The Spotted Pig, agreed to $240,000 to 11 women and give them a share of his restaurant’s profits for ten years under a settlement. He also agreed to no longer manage the restaurant.

Batali was an investor in The Spotted Pig and, like Friedman, had also been accused of harassment and unwanted touching.

The restaurant was forced to shut its doors just week after Friedman paid the settlement. 

In July 2021, Batali and his former business partner, Bastianich, agreed to pay $600,000 in a settlement to 20 former employees over sexual harassment allegations.

New York Attorney General Letitia James announced the settlement following a four-year investigation into the alleged culture of rampant sexual harassment at the restaurants.

The investigation found a culture rife with sexual harassment at the Manhattan restaurants Babbo, Lupa and Del Posto, which closed permanently in April, with employees reporting that managers and colleagues groped them, kissed them against their will, or made sexual comments.

‘Batali and Bastianich permitted an intolerable work environment and allowed shameful behavior that is inappropriate in any setting,’ James said in a statement. ‘Celebrity and fame does not absolve someone from following the law.’

‘Every individual deserves to work in a safe environment, and today’s agreement marks one more step towards remedying workplace harassment,’ she added.

Later that year it was revealed that Batali would face criminal trial in 2022 on the sexual misconduct charge stemming from the 2017 alleged groping in Boston. 

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