Mario Batali Acquitted In Sex Assault Case That Lasted Just Two Days

By Charles Susswein | Friday, 13 May 2022 20:30
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Celebrity chef Mario Batali’s pandemic-delayed trial on sexual transgression allegations opened Monday in Boston and was over by Wednesday as the Chef was acquitted of all charges.

Batali pleaded not guilty to a charge of indecent assault and battery in 2019, stemming from accusations that he forcibly kissed and groped a woman after taking a selfie with her at a Boston restaurant in 2017. The woman expressed Batali noticed her photographing him and asked her to take one together, then touched and kissed her continually without her consent.

If he was convicted, Batali faced up to 2 1/2 years in jail and be mandated to register as a sex offender. He’s anticipated to be in court throughout the proceedings, which were projected to last about two or three days, including jury selection.

Lawyers for Batali didn’t comment ahead of the start of jury selection Monday in Boston Municipal Court. The chef’s lawyers have earlier said the charge is without superiority. Furthermore, his accuser has filed a civil lawsuit against Batali seeking unknown damages for “severe emotional distress” that’s still pending in Suffolk County Superior Court in Boston. Her lawyer didn’t reply to emails Friday.

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Batali is among several high-profile men who have faced public judgment during the #MeToo social movement against sexual vitriol and harassment in recent years.

The 61-year-old was once a Food Network fixture on shows like “Molto Mario” and “Iron Chef America.” But the ponytail- and orange Croc-wearing personality’s high-flying career was crushed amid sexual misconduct allegations.

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

Batali has proposed an apology, acknowledging the allegations “match up” with ways he has behaved.

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“I have made many mistakes, and I am so very sorry that I have disappointed my friends, family, fans, and team,” he expressed in an email newsletter. “My behavior was wrong, and there are no excuses. I take full responsibility.”

Last year, Batali, his business partner, and their New York City restaurant company consented to pay $600,000 to settle a four-year investigation by the New York attorney general’s office into allegations that Batali, restaurant managers, and other workers sexually oppressed employees.

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In Boston, he opened a branch of the popular Italian food marketplace Eataly in the downtown Prudential Center in 2016 and a Babbo Pizzeria e Enoteca in the city’s Seaport District in 2015. Batali has since been bought out of his stake in Eataly, which still has dozens of sites worldwide, including Boston, and the Babbo restaurant in the city has since shut.

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