Mario Batali is the latest celebrity figure to be accused of sexual misconduct in the workplace. On Monday, Dec. 11, The New York Times reported that Batali, a high-profile restaurateur, was stepping away from the daily operations of his businesses as well as his ABC show The Chew.
Four women have reportedly accused Batali of touching them inappropriately. The accusations span over two decades and include behavior like breast groping and grabbing women from behind. One woman even alleged Batali made her straddle him so she could get to an exit he was blocking.
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Batali released a statement all but confirming the behavior, which read, “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. That behavior was wrong and there are no excuses.”
He added, “I have work to do to try to regain the trust of those I have hurt and disappointed. For this reason, I am going to step away from day-to-day operations of my businesses.”
His company, Batali & Bastianich Hospitality Group, also released a statement. “Mr. Batali and we have agreed that he will step away from the company’s operations, including the restaurants, and he has already done so.” The company set up a resource for employees to contact an outside investigation firm if they want to make claims against officials in the company.
ABC, the company behind Batali’s show The Chew, also commented on the accusation. “ABC takes matters like this very seriously as we are committed to a safe work environment. While we are unaware of any type of inappropriate behavior involving him and anyone affiliated with the show, we will swiftly address any alleged violations of our standards of conduct.”
It’s unclear as of now if or when Batali will return.