Mario Batali was found not guilty of indecent assault and battering Tuesday after a quick trial in which the celebrity chef waived his right to a jury decision on his fate. Batali, whoHe faced up to 2 1/2 years in prison for indecent assault and battering in 2019 and would have to register as a sex offender if found guilty.
accusing BataliOn Monday, the 61-year-old former Food Network personality was “shocked, surprised and alarmed” when he aggressively kissed and touched her while taking a selfie at a Boston restaurant in 2017.
The 32-year-old software company employee said that when Batali touched her without her consent, she felt too confused and powerless to do anything to stop herself. He also filed a pending lawsuit in Boston’s Suffolk County Supreme Court, where Batali’s lawyer claimed he had given him a financial incentive to lie.
Batali is among a number of high-profile men who have faced public reckoning during the #MeToo movement against sexual abuse and harassment in recent years.
After four women accused him of inappropriate touching in 2017, he resigned from day-to-day operations in the restaurant empire and left the ABC cooking show “The Chew”, which has since been discontinued.
Batali also apologized and admitted that the allegations “matched” with his behavior.
“I made a lot of mistakes,” he said in an email newsletter at the time. “My behavior was wrong and there are no excuses. I take full responsibility.”
The trial began Monday with Batali – in a surprise move – waived his right to a jury trial and instead opting for the judge to decide his fate.
Batali’s lawyer admitted that the woman attempted to evade jury service by claiming that she had recently become a fortune teller, arguing that the Boston attack never happened and that the accuser was not a credible witness. In this case, he was also accused of violating the judge’s orders to keep an open mind and not discuss the case with others.
In making his decision, Boston Municipal Court Judge James Stanton acknowledged the accuser’s claim that he had credibility issues. Both the accuser and Batali left the courtroom without speaking to reporters.
Batali was once a fixture on shows like “Molto Mario” and “Iron Chef America”. But the ponytail and orange Croc-wearing personality’s high-flying career has been torn amid allegations of sexual misconduct.
Last year, Batali, his business partner, and his 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 and other staff members sexually assaulted employees.
In Boston, he opened a branch of the popular Italian food market Eataly, and a Babbo Pizzeria e Enoteca in the city’s Seaport District. However, its stake in Eataly has since been bought, and the Babbo restaurant in Boston has closed.