Accused testifies in Mario Batali trial over sexual misconduct

Accused testifies in Mario Batali trial over sexual misconduct

BOSTON (AFP) – A Massachusetts woman who accused Mario Batali of kissing and groping her while trying to take a selfie at a Boston restaurant on Monday said she felt disoriented and unable to do anything to stop the celebrity chef.

While questioned by prosecutors at Batali’s trial over sexual misconduct, the 32-year-old said he appeared drunk and blinked and blinked as they took several photos together at his insistence. The trial began on Monday after Batali – in a surprising move – waived his right to a jury trial and instead opted for a judge to decide his fate.

The woman also testified that she was embarrassed about the 2017 incident – until she saw other women come forward to share similar encounters with Batali.

“This happened to me and this is my life,” said the woman, when asked by prosecutors why she decided to speak out. “I want to be able to take control of what happened, come forward, say my peace, and make everyone accountable for their actions and behaviors.”

Batali’s attorney, Anthony Fuller, argued that the assault never occurred and that the accused was not a credible witness and had a financial incentive to lie.

He also suggested that she joked about meeting up on text messages with friends and eating at Itali, the Italian market Batali once owned, after the encounter.

“It’s not honest,” Fuller said. “This is being made up for money and fun.”

The accused has sued Batali for unspecified damages for “extreme emotional distress” that is still pending in Suffolk County Superior Court in Boston.

Fuller also said that the plaintiff, in an effort to get out of jury duty, recently pleaded guilty to lying during jury selection in another Massachusetts criminal trial because she claimed she was a clairvoyant.

Batali, who pleaded not guilty to assault and battery in 2019, could face up to two and a half years in prison and be required to register as a sex offender if convicted. He is expected to appear in court throughout the proceedings, which are supposed to last about two days, according to prosecutors.

Batali is among a number of notable men who have faced public accounts during the social #MeToo movement against sexual assault and harassment in recent years.

The 61-year-old has been a Food Network standout on shows like “Molto Mario” and “Iron Chef America.” But the career of the crocodile-wearing orange and ponytail character has collapsed amid allegations of sexual misconduct.

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

Batali offered an apology, acknowledging that the allegations “matched” the ways in which he acted.

“I’ve made many mistakes and I’m very sorry for disappointing my friends, family, 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 year, Batali, his business partner and their New York City restaurant company agreed to pay $600,000 to resolve a four-year investigation by the New York Attorney General’s Office into allegations that Batali, restaurant managers and other workers sexually harassed employees.

In Boston, he opened a branch of the popular Italian food market Eataly in downtown Prudential Center in 2016 as well as Babbo Pizzeria e Enoteca in the city’s seaport area in 2015.

Batali has since been purchased from his stake in Eataly, which still has dozens of locations around the world, including Boston, and Babbo’s restaurant in the city has since closed.

2022-05-09 05:47:27

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.