Update, 5/21/18: The New York Police Department has confirmed there is an ongoing criminal investigation into Mario Batali. They provided no further details to the nature of the investigation. The news comes after 60 Minutes reported numerous accounts of Batali’s alleged sexual misconduct, including a woman who claimed he assaulted her in 2005 while she was unconscious. Afterward, she called a crisis center and talked to the police, but did not file a report. “I vehemently deny the allegation that I sexually assaulted this woman,” Batali said in a statement. “My past behavior has been deeply inappropriate and I am sincerely remorseful for my actions.”
Original, 12/13/2017: This week, celebrity chef Mario Batali was accused of sexual misconduct by multiple women in an investigation by the food site Eater. Batali issued an apology and moved away from the day-to-day operations of his business; he also stepped aside as cohost of The Chew and a planned reboot of Molto Mario was put on hold by the Food Network. Now, a new report alleges Batali - who was nicknamed the "Red Menace" by some servers - had a reputation for sexual harassment at the Spotted Pig, a popular restaurant in New York City.
In a New York Times investigation, some told the newspaper that working at the restaurant, which Batali frequented and is an investor in, required enduring unwanted touches and catcalls from owner Ken Friedman and from some of his VIP guests. Ten women accused Friedman of unwanted sexual advances, like groping or asking for nude photos, according to the Times.
Some accusers pointed to The Spotted Pig's private parties, often held on a secluded third floor of the restaurant. Servers reportedly had to work all-night shifts at the parties, which allegedly sometimes included public nudity and sex. The Times reported that employees and people in the restaurant scene nicknamed the space "the rape room."
Batali was reportedly a regular at The Spotted Pig, and the Times wrote that he had a bad reputation. "We called him the Red Menace," former server Trish Nelson told the Times. "He tried to touch my breasts and told me that they were beautiful. He wanted to wrestle. As I was serving drinks to his table, he told me I should sit on his friend's face." Former manager Jamie Seet said she once saw on a security-camera feed that Batali, who appeared to be drunk, was kissing and groping a woman who seemed to be unconscious.
Batali apologized for his behavior in a statement to the Times. "Though I don't remember these specific accounts, there is no question I have behaved terribly," he said. "There are no excuses. I take full responsibility and am deeply sorry for any pain, humiliation, or discomfort I have caused."
Friedman, who owns several other restaurants in New York, plus two in California, also issued an apology to the paper and took a leave of absence from his company. "My personal and professional life was intertwined with our restaurants and our staff. I own my behavior which can accurately be described at times as abrasive, rude and frankly wrong," he said in a statement. "Some incidents were not as described, but context and content are not today's discussion. I apologize now publicly for my actions."
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