Celebrity chef Mario Batali has been cleared of sexual misconduct by a Massachusetts judge. The case was centered on a woman who said Batali forcibly kissed and groped her while she attempted to take a selfie at a Boston bar in 2017.
During Batalia’s trial at Boston Municipal Court the credibility of his accuser Natali Tene was called into question when the restauranteur’s lawyer Anthony Fuller pointed out she wriggled out of jury duty in 2018 by claiming to be clairvoyant but did not tell the court she had been a victim of a crime. Fuller also argued Natali Tene had a financial incentive to lie, pointing to a $50,000 civil suit she filed against Batalia.
The judge also heard evidence about a text message Tene sent to a friend where she said she planned to exaggerate the incident with Batalia, which she did not report to the Boston Police until 2018.
Prosecutors say Tene did not consent to her private parts being fondled when she took several selfies with the celebrity chef.
“While we’re disappointed in the judge’s verdict, my office will not waiver in our support for the victim in this case. It can be incredibly difficult for a victim to disclose a sexual assault. When the individual who committed such an abhorrent act is in a position of power or celebrity, the decision to report an assault can become all the more challenging and intimidating,” Suffolk County District Attorney Kevin Hayden said in a statement. “I’m grateful that the victim in this case made the decision to come forward, and to every survivor of sexual assault who makes that difficult decision. “
Batalia had been a titan in the LA restaurant scene since partnered. with Nancy Silverton in opening the trio of restaurants Pizzeria Mozza, Osteria Mozza, and Chi Spacca. His empire and television career collapsed in 2017 when was hit by a flurry of sexual misconduct allegations in Los Angeles.
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