BOSTON (AP) – The trial of Mario Batali for sexual misconduct began Monday in a Boston court, and his prosecutor said she was “shocked, surprised and upset” as the famous chef aggressively kissed and touched her while taking selfies in restaurant 2017
A 32-year-old Boston software company worker said she felt confused and powerless to do anything to stop Batali as he grabbed her “in a way they had never touched me before.”
“It was all happening so fast and it was happening essentially all the time,” a woman testified at Boston Municipal Court. “Just a lot of touching.”
She said she felt ashamed until she saw other women come forward to share similar encounters with Batali.
“This has happened to me and this is my life,” the woman said. “I want to be able to take control of what happened, stand out, have my say and let everyone be responsible for their actions.”
But Batali’s lawyer, Anthony Fuller, tried to discredit her, claiming the attack never happened.
He said the prosecutor has a financial incentive to lie because he is seeking more than $ 50,000 in damages from Batali in a separate ongoing civil lawsuit at Suffolk County High Court in Boston.
“She’s not being honest,” Fuller said. “This is made up for money and fun.”
During cross-examination, he gave financial reports showing the woman ate at Eataly, the Italian market Batali once owned, weeks after the meeting and continued to protect the Boston bar where the alleged attack took place.
“You’re going to a restaurant of a guy you claim brutally attacked?” He said. “It does not make sense.”
The woman said she did not remember going to Eataly and claimed she was not speaking for financial gain. She also retaliated strongly against Fuller for asking why none of the many photos taken with Batali that night showed the alleged attack.
The woman said that all the photos were taken relatively close up and that it is not visible how Batali, who she said was visibly drunk, grabbed her private areas, touched her face and even pushed his tongue into her ear. She said he also invited her to his hotel room afterwards, which she declined.
“I’ve never been so touched before,” the woman said. “Squeezing my vagina to draw me closer to him, like it’s a normal way to grab someone.”
But Fuller argued that the prosecutor was not a credible witness. It focused on a woman who recently admitted charges of violating a judge’s instructions while on a jury in an unrelated 2018 criminal trial.
The woman, who claimed to be clairvoyant in a jury selection questionnaire, argued in court on Monday that she could predict major events before they happen “to some extent”.
The trial began on Monday after Batali – with an unexpected move – waived his right to a jury trial and instead decided to have a judge decide his fate.
Batali, who pleaded not guilty to indecent assault and abuse In 2019, he could face 2 1/2 years in prison and be required to report himself as a sex offender if convicted.
Batali is among a number of high-profile men who have faced public confrontation in recent years during the #MeToo social movement against sexual abuse and harassment.
The 61-year-old was once a member of the Food Network on shows such as “Molto Mario” and “Iron Chef America”. But the top career of a person with a ponytail and orange crocodiles has collapsed over allegations of sexual misconduct.
Four women accused him of inappropriate touching in 2017, after which he retired from day-to-day business in his restaurant empire and left since the abolition of the ABC cooking show “The Chew”.
Batali apologized, admitting that the accusations “coincide” with the way he acted.
“I made many mistakes and I am very sorry to have disappointed my friends, my family, my fans and my team,” he said in an e-mail newsletter at the time. “My behavior was wrong and there are no excuses. I take full responsibility. “
Last year, Batali, his business partner and their New York restaurant company agreed to pay $ 600,000 to solve a four-year investigation by the New York Attorney General’s Office into allegations that Batali, restaurant managers and other workers sexually harassed employees.
In Boston, he opened the Eataly downtown location and the Babbo Pizzeriu e Enoteca in the Seaport neighborhood. Batali has since been redeemed his stake in Eataly and the Babbo restaurant closed.