Mario Batali in court docket: Accuser testifies in celeb chef’s sexual misconduct trial in Boston

BOSTON — A Massachusetts lady who accused Mario Batali of kissing and groping her whereas trying to take a selfie at a Boston restaurant testified Monday that she felt confused and powerless to do something to cease the celeb chef.

While being questioned by prosecutors at Batali’s sexual misconduct trial, the 32-year-old stated he appeared drunk and was slurring his phrases and shutting his eyes as they took a number of images collectively at his insistence. The trial opened Monday after Batali – in a shock transfer – waived his proper to a jury trial and opted as an alternative to have a decide resolve his destiny.

The lady additionally testified that she felt embarrassed by the 2017 incident – till she noticed different ladies step ahead to share related encounters with Batali.

“This happened to me and this is my life,” stated the girl when requested by prosecutors why she additionally determined to talk out. “I want to be able to take control of what happened, come forward, say my peace and have everyone be accountable for their actions and behaviors.”

Batali’s lawyer Anthony Fuller argued the assault by no means occurred and that the accuser is not a reputable witness and has a monetary incentive to lie.

He additionally recommended she joked about her encounter in textual content messages with pals and ate at Eataly, the Italian market Bataly as soon as owned, after the encounter.

“She’s not being truthful,” Fuller stated. “This is being fabricated for money and for fun.”

MORE: Chef Mario Batali, former accomplice to pay $600K in intercourse harassment settlement by NY AG

The accuser has filed a lawsuit in opposition to Batali searching for unspecified damages for “severe emotional distress” that is nonetheless pending in Suffolk County Superior Court in Boston.

Fuller additionally stated the accuser, in an effort to get out of jury responsibility, not too long ago pleaded responsible to mendacity throughout jury choice in one other Massachusetts prison trial as a result of she claimed she was clairvoyant.

Batali, who pleaded not responsible to indecent assault and battery in 2019, might resist 2 1/2 years in jail and be required to register as a intercourse offender if convicted. He’s anticipated to be in court docket all through the proceedings, which ought to final about two days, in line with prosecutors.

Batali is amongst plenty of high-profile males who’ve confronted a public reckoning throughout the #MeToo social motion in opposition to sexual abuse and harassment in recent times.

The 61-year-old was as soon as a Food Network fixture on reveals like “Molto Mario” and “Iron Chef America.” But the ponytail-and-orange Croc-wearing persona’s high-flying profession crumbled amid sexual misconduct allegations.

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

Batali has provided an apology, acknowledging the allegations “match up” with methods he has acted.

“I have made many mistakes and I am so very sorry that I have disappointed my friends, my family, my fans and my team,” he stated in an electronic mail publication on the time. “My behavior was wrong and there are no excuses. I take full responsibility.”

Last yr, Batali, his enterprise accomplice and their New York City restaurant firm agreed to pay $600,000 to resolve a four-year investigation by the New York lawyer common’s workplace into allegations that Batali, restaurant managers and different employees sexually harassed workers.

In Boston, he opened a department of the favored Italian meals market Eataly within the downtown Prudential Center in 2016 in addition to a Babbo Pizzeria e Enoteca within the metropolis’s Seaport District in 2015.

Batali has since been purchased out of his stake in Eataly, which nonetheless has dozens of places worldwide, together with in Boston, and the Babbo restaurant within the metropolis has since closed.

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