– Accused of sexual assault, chef Mario Batali acquitted
Famous in the United States, chef Mario Batali won a first trial on Tuesday against a woman who accused him of sexual assault in Boston in 2017.
American chef Mario Batali, a figure in gastronomy in the United States accused by several women of sexual assault, was acquitted on Tuesday in one of these cases by a Boston court.
The 61-year-old celebrity chef, known for his ABC TV show ‘The Chew’, was accused by a 32-year-old woman of taking advantage of her as they took selfies together at a Boston restaurant, forcing her to kiss him and touching her between the legs. The incident dated back to April 2017.
“It is an understatement to say that Mario Batali did not cover himself with glory on the evening in question”, commented the judge of the municipal court of Boston, James Stanton, during the reading of his decision, taken up by television networks Americans.
But he also pointed out that the complainant had “significant credibility issues” and added that the images on the selfies did not suggest that a sexual assault was in progress, before declaring Mario Batali not guilty of an attack on modesty and violence.
Supporting Suffolk County District Attorney Kevin Hayden expressed disappointment, noting in a statement that “it (could) be incredibly difficult for a victim to disclose a sexual assault”, and “even more difficult and intimidating” in the face of “a person of power or a celebrity”.
Born in Seattle, of Italian descent, Mario Batali was one of the most popular personalities of gastronomy in the United States, thanks to his television show and his character of bon vivant, recognizable by his ponytail and to his orange Fangs.
But a series of accusations of sexual assault from 2017 had tarnished the “success story” of this chef, who had invested in several restaurants and gastronomic places in New York, including one of the temples of Italian cuisine, the local franchise of the Eataly chain. Since then, he had retreated.
In July 2021, Mario Batali and one of his associates had agreed to pay 600,000 dollars (597,000 francs) to around twenty former employees who had brought accusations of sexual harassment, as part of an agreement court case before New York Attorney General Letitia James.
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