Accuser testifies in Mario Batali sexual misconduct trial

BOSTON (AP) — A Massachusetts girl who accused Mario Batali of kissing and groping her whereas making an attempt to take a selfie at a Boston restaurant testified Monday that she felt confused and powerless to do something to cease the superstar chef.

The 32-year-old mentioned she additionally felt embarrassed by the 2017 incident — till she noticed different girls step ahead to share comparable encounters with Batali.

“This occurred to me and that is my life,” mentioned the lady whereas being questioned by prosecutors on the outset of Batali’s sexual misconduct trial. “I need to have the ability to take management of what occurred, come ahead, say my piece and have everybody be accountable for his or her actions.“

However Batali’s lawyer, Anthony Fuller, argued the assault by no means occurred and that the accuser has a monetary incentive to lie. He mentioned she’s in search of greater than $50,000 in damages from Batali in a separate civil lawsuit pending in Suffolk County Superior Courtroom in Boston.

Throughout cross examination, he produced receipts exhibiting she ate at Eataly, the Italian market Batali as soon as owned, weeks after the encounter and continued to patronize the Boston bar the place the alleged assault occurred.

“She’s not being truthful,” Fuller mentioned. “That is being fabricated for cash and for enjoyable.”

The girl mentioned she didn’t recall going to Eataly and maintained she isn’t talking out for monetary achieve.

She additionally strongly pushed again at Fuller for questioning why not one of the practically dozen selfies taken with Batali that evening confirmed the alleged assault.

The girl mentioned the images had been all taken comparatively shut up and didn’t present how Batali was grabbing her non-public areas, touching her face and even sticking his tongue in her ear.

“It was all taking place so rapidly and it was taking place basically the entire time,” she testified. “Simply lots of touching.”

The girl additionally mentioned Batali appeared drunk and invited her as much as his lodge room afterward, which she mentioned she declined.

Fuller additionally argued the accuser isn’t a reputable witness. He mentioned the lady, in an effort to get out of jury responsibility, not too long ago pleaded responsible to mendacity throughout jury choice in one other Massachusetts prison trial as a result of she claimed she was clairvoyant.

Monday’s trial opened after Batali — in a shock transfer — waived his proper to a jury trial and opted as an alternative to have a decide resolve his destiny.

Batali, who pleaded not guilty to indecent assault and battery in 2019, may resist 2 1/2 years in jail and be required to register as a intercourse offender if convicted.

Batali is amongst quite a lot of high-profile males who’ve confronted a public reckoning through the #MeToo social motion in opposition to sexual abuse and harassment lately.

The 61-year-old was as soon as a Meals Community fixture on exhibits like “Molto Mario” and “Iron Chef America.” However the ponytail-and-orange Croc-wearing persona’s high-flying profession crumbled amid sexual misconduct allegations.

4 girls accused him of inappropriate touching in 2017, after which he stepped down from day-to-day operations at his restaurant empire and left the since-discontinued ABC cooking present “The Chew.”

Batali has supplied an apology, acknowledging the allegations “match up” with methods he has acted.

“I’ve made many errors and I’m so very sorry that I’ve dissatisfied my buddies, my household, my followers and my staff,” he mentioned in an e mail e-newsletter on the time. “My conduct was fallacious and there aren’t any excuses. I take full duty.”

Final yr, Batali, his enterprise companion and their New York Metropolis restaurant firm agreed to pay $600,000 to resolve a four-year investigation by the New York lawyer basic’s workplace into allegations that Batali, restaurant managers and different employees sexually harassed workers.

In Boston, he opened the Eataly location within the downtown Prudential Middle in 2016 in addition to a Babbo Pizzeria e Enoteca within the metropolis’s Seaport District in 2015.

Batali has since been bought out of his stake in Eataly and the Babbo restaurant within the metropolis has closed.

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