Mario Batali won’t be charged for alleged sexual assaults

10 January, 2019 by
Madeline Woolway

It’s been reported celebrity chef Mario Batali will not face charges for three alleged sexual assaults.

News broke on Tuesday 8 January that the New York Police Department (NYPD) had closed its investigation into three cases against the chef.

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TMZ originally reported the charges against Batali for two alleged sexual assaults were dropped by the NYPD due to lack of evidence.

The New York Times reported the NYPD could not pursue two of the cases because they fell outside of the State’s statute of limitations. The statute was lifted in 2006 but was not made retroactive. The two cases, which related to incidents from 2004 and 2005, were closed over the American summer of 2018.

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The first incident, a sexual assault which allegedly occurred in 2005 at The Spotted Pig — a NYC restaurant owned by Ken Friedman, who has also been accused of sexual misconduct — was detailed by an unidentified woman during an interview with US current affairs program 60 Minutes.

The second complaint pertains to an alleged sexual assault that occurred in 2004 at Babbo restaurant in Greenwich Village. While Batali had acknowledged inappropriate behaviour, he adamantly denied allegations of non-consensual sex.

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The New York Times report also included details of a third, previously unreported case, which was dropped in August 2018 because investigators from the Special Victims Unit could not find witnesses to corroborate or obtain enough evidence to support the accuser’s claims. The third case pertains to an alleged rape at The Spotted Pig 8–9 years ago.

While the previous two cases cannot be pursued due to the statute of limitations, they potentially could have been used by prosecutors in the third case as evidence of a pattern of sexual misconduct.

Three women came forward after an Eater investigation was published in December 2017 which detailed multiple accusations of inappropriate touching and other misconduct based on interviews with industry professionals, including more than 30 current and former employees of Batali.

Batali was reprimanded for his behaviour by restaurant management company Batali & Bastianich Hospitality Group — which operates 24 venues in the US, including those owned by Batali — and was required to undergo training.

The first official complaint against Batali was made to the company in October 2017. In a statement to Eater, Batali admitted the allegations “matched up” with his past behaviour.

After the accusations came to light, Batali announced he was stepping away from his restaurant group. At the time, Batali was condemned by members of the hospitality industry, such as the James Beard Foundation, while ABC’s The Chew requested the chef and previous co-host leave the show and the Food Network’s plans of a Molto Mario revival have been put on hold.

The cases could be reopened if more evidence emerges. Batali is still under investigation in Boston over a fourth incident, according to Eater.