Back in 2017, the media was flooded with a series of allegations of sexual misconduct by celebrity chef Mario Batali. The accusations, first published by Eater, spanned two decades of inappropriate behavior, and include accounts of four different women who Batali allegedly physically harassed — along with dozens of further anecdotes alleging Batali’s serial sexual harassment of female employees and co-workers. Now, Batali is facing a criminal charge for one such 2017 allegation, and will be arraigned Friday on one count of indecent assault and battery.
The incident for which Batali is being charged allegedly occurred at a Boston restaurant in 2017. The woman has accused Batali of “forcibly kissing and groping her while taking a selfie,” per CBS. While the accuser’s name has not been released, CNN reports that the details of this case match a 2018 lawsuit filed by a “Boston-area woman.” The 2018 lawsuit alleged that “Batali rubbed her breasts, kissed her repeatedly and groped her buttocks and groin area after he spotted her taking photos of him, and offered to take a selfie with her, according to the complaint.” At the time, the woman asked to be awarded damages “in an amount determined by the Court,” adding that Batali’s “unwanted and disgusting” behavior had come about “without warning or permission.”
According to Batali’s lawyer, the chef and former TV host denies these allegations. “[Batali] intends to fight the allegations vigorously and we expect the outcome to fully vindicate Mr. Batali,” attorney Anthony Fuller reports. If convicted, Batali would need to register as a sex offender, and faces up to two-and-a-half years in jail. In reaction to 2017 reports of misconduct, the chef sold his stake in his restaurants, issued a formal apology, and resigned from his role as co-host on ABC show The Chew.
It’s unclear how this specific charge ties in with the dozens of alleged incidents included in Eater‘s initial 2017 round-up, but parties who came forward at the time insisted it was all part of the same “pattern of behavior.” Of all the allegations against Batali, this is merely the first to result in criminal charges — a heartening confirmation that law enforcement is taking these accusations seriously.
If you have experienced sexual violence and are in need of crisis support, please call the RAINN Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).