Testimony continues in sexual misconduct case of celebrity chef Mario Batali

Testimony continues Tuesday in Boston in the trial of celebrity chef Mario Batali, who is charged with indecent assault and battery.Batali, 61, who is accused of forcibly kissing and groping a woman after taking a selfie with her at a Boylston Street restaurant in 2017 , has opted for a bench trial.Batali’s accuser took the stand Monday and explained what happened the night she saw Batali and took photos with him at Towne Stove & Spirits.”He had one of his arms around me, and his face was pressed up against mine,” she said. “He was kissing the side of my face, and he had his other arm wrapped around the back of me, and that is what we see in the photo.”The 32-year-old Boston-area software company worker said while they were taking the photos, Batali’s hands were in “sensitive areas” touching her body.”He kept saying, ‘One more, one more,’ to get another selfie,” the accuser tested as the photos were shown in the courtroom.She said she was standing next to Batali, who was seated at the bar, as she took the photos.”His right hand is over my breast, all over my rear end, in between my legs, grabbing me in a way that I’ve never been touched before like that,” she said. “Like, squeezing in between my legs, squeezing my vagina to pull me closer to him — as if that is a normal way to grab someone — just between the legs to pull them toward you.” Batali’s lawyer Anthony Fuller argued the assault never happened and that the accuser isn’t a credible witness and has a financial incentive to lie. “She She’s not being truthful,” he said. “This is being fabricated for money and for fun.” Fuller said the accuser has a financial incentive to lie as she’s seeking more than $50,000 in damages from Batali in a separate civil lawsuit pending in Suffolk County Superior Court in Boston.During cross-examination , he produced financial statements showing the woman ate at Eataly, the Italian marketplace Batali once had an ownership stake in, after the encounter and continued to patronize the Boston bar where the alleged assault took place.“You go to the restaurant of the guy who you claimed brutally assaulted you?” he said. “That doesn’t make sense.” The woman said she didn’t recall going to Eataly and maintained she isn’t speaking out for financial gain. She also strongly pushed back at Fuller for questioning why none of the many photos taken with Batali that night showed the alleged assault.The accuser said she felt embarrassed until she saw other women step to share similar encounters with Batali.“This happened to me and this is my life,” the woman responded when prosecutors asked why she’d come forward. “I want to be able to take control of what happened, say my piece and have everyone be accountable for their actions.” The trial has been delayed because of the COVID-19 pandemic; however, during his 2019 arraignment, Batali pleaded not guilty to the charges.If convicted, Batali could face up to two and a half years in prison and be required to register as a sex offender. Several other women have previously come forward to allege sexual misconduct by Batali. Batali stepped down from daily operations at his restaurant empire and cooking show “The Chew” in December 2017 after four women accused him of inappropriate touching.Batali has offered an apology, acknowledging the “match up” with ways 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 said in an email newsletter at the time. “My behavior was wrong and there are no excuses. I take full responsibility.”Batali opened a branch of the popular Italian food marketplace Eataly in Boston in the downtown Prudential Center in 2016 as well as a Babbo Pizzeria e Enoteca in the city’s Seaport District in 2015.Batali has since been bought out of his stake in Eataly, which still has dozens of locations worldwide including in Boston, and the Babbo restaurant in the city has since closed.

Testimony continues Tuesday in Boston in the trial of celebrity chef Mario Batali, who is charged with indecent assault and battery.

Batali, 61, who is a accused of forcibly kissing and groping a woman after taking a selfie with her at Boylston Street restaurant in 2017, has opted for a bench trial.

Batali’s accuser took the stand Monday and explained what happened the night she saw Batali and took photos with him at Towne Stove & Spirits.

“He had one of his arms around me, and his face was pressed up against mine,” she said. “He was kissing the side of my face, and he had his other arm wrapped around the back of me, and that is what we see in the photo.”

The 32-year-old Boston-area software company worker said while they were taking the photos, Batali’s hands were in “sensitive areas” touching her body.

“He kept saying, ‘One more, one more,’ to get another selfie,” the accuser tested as the photos were shown in the courtroom.

She said she was standing next to Batali, who was seated at the bar, as she took the photos.

“His right hand is over my breast, all over my rear end, in between my legs, grabbing me in a way that I’ve never been touched before like that,” she said. “Like, squeezing in between my legs, squeezing my vagina to pull me closer to him — as if that is a normal way to grab someone — just between the legs to pull them toward you.”

Batali’s lawyer Anthony Fuller argued the assault never happened and that the accuser isn’t a credible witness and has a financial incentive to lie.

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

Fuller said the accuser has a financial incentive to lie as she’s seeking more than $50,000 in damages from Batali in a separate civil lawsuit pending in Suffolk County Superior Court in Boston.

During cross-examination, he produced financial statements showing the woman ate at Eataly, the Italian marketplace Batali once had an ownership stake in, weeks after the encounter and continued to patronize the Boston bar where the alleged assault took place.

“You go to the restaurant of the guy who you claimed brutally assaulted you?” he said.

The woman said she didn’t recall going to Eataly and maintained she isn’t speaking out for financial gain. She also strongly pushed back at Fuller for questioning why none of the many photos taken with Batali that night showed the alleged assault.

The accuser said she felt embarrassed until she saw other women step forward to share similar encounters with Batali.

“This happened to me and this is my life,” the woman responded when prosecutors asked why she’d come forward. “I want to be able to take control of what happened, say my piece and have everyone be accountable for their actions.”

The trial has been delayed because of the COVID-19 pandemic; however, during his 2019 arraignment, Batali pleaded not guilty to the charges.

If convicted, Batali could face up to two and a half years in prison and be required to register as a sex offender.

Several other women have previously come forward to allege sexual misconduct by Batali.

Batali stepped down from daily operations at his restaurant empire and cooking show “The Chew” in December 2017 after four women accused him of inappropriate touching.

Batali has offered an apology, acknowledging the “match up” with ways 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 said in an email newsletter at the time. “My behavior was wrong and there are no excuses. I take full responsibility.”

Batali opened a branch of the popular Italian food marketplace Eataly in Boston in the downtown Prudential Center in 2016 as well as a Babbo Pizzeria e Enoteca in the city’s Seaport District in 2015.

Batali has since been bought out of his stake in Eataly, which still has dozens of locations worldwide including in Boston, and the Babbo restaurant in the city has since closed.

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