Disgraced celebrity chef Mario Batali has been formally charged with indecent assault and battery based on accusations that he groped and kissed a woman against her will in a Boston restaurant in 2017. Batali pleaded "not guilty" to the charges at his arraignment in Boston on Friday, according to The Wrap. Batali reportedly ignored questions as he walked into the Boston Municipal Court.
His accuser was named as Natali Tene, who said that during a visit to the since-closed Towne Stove and Spirits on Boylston Street in 2017, Batali noticed her taking a photo of him and told her to "come here now", before offering to take a picture with her. Tene then alleges that a drunk Batali "put his arm around her and grabbed her breast" before grabbing her buttocks, touching her groin over her clothing and holding her face while kissing her on the cheek and mouth.
The incident report said: "The victim realized Batali was intoxicated by the smell and half closed eyes." Tene's lawsuit says that Batali's alleged actions were "dehumanizing" and "humiliating."
Tene said she "was uncomfortable and it was shocking to her that this was happening," before Batali invited her back to the Mandarin Oriental hotel, where he was staying. She declined.
Tene's lawyer said: "The criminal charges brought against him are independent of the ongoing civil lawsuit. Mr. Batali must be held accountable criminally and civilly for his despicable acts. Natali is grateful that the Suffolk County District Attorney’s office in Boston has chosen to go forward in prosecuting Mario Batali on criminal charges of sexually assaulting her. In doing so, the DA’s Office has taken a strong stance in advocating on behalf of our client."
Anthony Fuller, an attorney for Batali said: “Mr. Batali denies the allegations in both this criminal complaint and the civil complaint filed last August. The charges, brought by the same individual without any new basis, are without merit. He intends to fight the allegations vigorously and we expect the outcome to fully vindicate Mr. Batali.”
When accused with sexual assault back in December of 2017, Batali had commented: “Much of the behavior described does, in fact, match up with ways I have acted. That behavior was wrong and there are no excuses.”
After 60 Minutes did a report on Batali in May 2018, the NYPD opened a criminal investigation into accusations made against him.
Back in March we reported that Batali, amidst a chorus of sexual harassment and assault allegations, had given up his stake in all of his restaurants. The chef's ongoing 20 year partnership with the Bastianich family of restaurateurs was "formally dissolved" earlier this year, about 12 months after sexual harassment and assault allegations surfaced. The "Batali & Bastianich Hospitality Group" has been dissolved.
According to Tanya Bastianich Manuali, who was set to head up the new company taking the place of Batali's former partnership, Batali “will no longer profit from the restaurants in any way, shape or form.” Bastianich Manuali and her brother bought out Batali's shares for undisclosed terms. The new company is now heading up the group's 16 restaurants under a new management and financial structure.
Batali said back in March: “I have reached an agreement with Joe and no longer have any stake in the restaurants we built together. I wish him the best of luck in the future.”
Batali also sold his stake in Eataly, a chain of luxury Italian supermarkets, that he was an investor in. Chris Giglio said on behalf of Eataly in March: “Eataly is in the process of acquiring Mr. Batali’s minority interest in Eataly USA.”
During its heyday, the "Batali & Bastianich Hospitality Group" was made up of dozens of restaurants and food businesses located not just in the US, but also in Singapore, Italy and Hong Kong. Restaurants like Babbo and Del Posto were responsible for helping lift Batali to his celebrity status. Investments from California chef Nancy Silverton and Lidia Bastianich, Mr. Bastianich’s mother, helped give the operation even more gravitas as it grew.