Mario Batali Found Not Guilty in Sexual Misconduct Trial, Civil Lawsuit Still Pending

Celebrity chef, Mario Batali, has been found not guilty of sexual misconduct. Batali was charged with indecent assault and battery in May 2019. The charge stemmed from an alleged incident between Batali and a restaurant patron in 2017. He pled not guilty to the charge in 2019, but the coronavirus (COVID-19) slowed the court systems. The acquittal puts an end to the criminal portion of the case, but Batali still has a civil lawsuit to attend to.  

Mario Batali’s accuser claimed the chef and TV personality kissed and groped her

Batali’s accuser, a 32-year-old woman, alleged that the TV personality kissed and groped her after she requested a picture with him at a Boston-area eatery in 2017. Batali denied the allegations. His legal team claimed that the accuser was not a reliable witness and was motivated by money to make up the story. Batali faced more than two years in prison and would have had to register as a sex offender if he had been found guilty. 

Mario Batali at his arrangement on indecent assualt and battery in 2019
Mario Batali,| David L. Ryan/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Batali pled not guilty to the charges in 2019. He waved his right to a jury trial. Instead, he opted to have a judge decide his fate. Judge James M. Stanton presided over the case. According to Eater, Judge Stanton ultimately agreed that Batali’s accuser was not a credible witness but admonished Batali for his behavior. Of Batali’s conduct, Judge Stanton said it was not “befitting of a public person of his stature.”

While Batali has been acquitted in the criminal trial, a civil lawsuit is still pending. The civil suit, filed in Suffolk County Superior Court, has not been given a trial date. 

Mario Batali has been accused of wrongdoing by several other women 

Batali’s Boston accuser isn’t the only person to accuse the TV chef of wrongdoing. In 2017 more than a dozen former and current employees came forward to accuse Batali and his business partner, Joseph Bastianich, of fostering a hostile work environment. Bastianich and Batali, under their company, B&B Hospitality Group, owned several restaurants in New York City. 

Mario Batali, Lidia Bastianich, Michael Bloomberg, Eataly founder Oscar Farinetti and Joseph Bastianich cut a pasta ribbon at Eataly's grand opening on August 31, 2010
Mario Batali, Lidia Bastianich, Michael Bloomberg, Oscar Farinetti, and Joseph Bastianich | Charles Eshelman/FilmMagic

According to Restaurant Hospitality, One former employee alleged Batali grabbed her hand and pulled it toward his genitals. The business partners were also accused of making comments about female employees’ physical appearances. In one instance, a former employee accused her employer of suggesting she get breast implants. The partners settled the case for $600,000. Batali has since sold his stake in the eateries he owned with Bastianich. 

Joseph Bastianich is the son of Lidia Bastianich. Lidia Bastianich is a television chef. Fans know her best for her show,  Lidia’s Italian Table.

Mario Batali has shied away from the spotlight in recent years 

Once a huge presence on the Food Network, Batali has stepped away from the spotlight since the 2017 accusations. Batali walked away from The Chew, a morning show he co-hosted. He has not appeared on the Food Network in years.

Eataly NYC Downtown reopens with Color Factory for La Pizza & La Pasta A Colori art installation created by artist Eric Rieger
Eataly NYC Downtown | Noam Galai/Getty Images

Batali has also sold his stake in Eataly, the Italian market and restaurant concept he invested in. The company pulled Batali’s products from the Eataly marketplace due to the misconduct allegations. Batali was used heavily in the promotion of Eataly when it opened in New York City in 2010.

Related: What is Mario Batali Doing Now?