Chef Mario Batali Appears in Boston Court for Sexual Assault Trial — What Are the Allegations?

Mario Batali is facing charges of indecent battery and assault stemming from allegations made against him by a woman in 2017

Celebrity chef Mario Batali, center, is seated next to defense attorney Anthony Fuller, left, at Boston Municipal Court for the first day of Batali's pandemic-delayed trial, in Boston. Batali pleaded not guilty to a charge of indecent assault and battery in 2019, stemming from accusations that he forcibly kissed and groped a woman after taking a selfie with her at a Boston restaurant in 2017
Photo: Steven Senne/AP/Shutterstock

Mario Batali is on trial.

The celebrity chef, 61, appeared in a Boston courtroom on Monday on charges of indecent battery and assault, which were brought up against him after he was accused of acting inappropriately by alleged victim Natali Tene in 2017.

Tene, 32, testified about an encounter with Batali that she said took place in a Boston bar. She alleged in court that Batali was "grabbing me in a way that I was never touched before," according to The Boston Globe.

Batali pleaded not guilty to the charges in 2019, and the trial is only beginning now in part because of pandemic-related delays, per the New York Times.

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Tene was the leadoff witness in Batali's case. Jury selection was previously scheduled to start on Monday, but Batali waived his right to a jury trial and instead is leaving the verdict up to the judge presiding over the case.

If Batali is convicted, he could face up to two and a half years in prison, the New York Times reported. He could also be required to register as a sex offender.

Celebrity chef Mario Batali arrives at Boston Municipal Court for the first day his pandemic-delayed trial, in Boston, USA, 09 May 2022. Batali pleaded not guilty to a charge of indecent assault and battery in 2019, stemming from accusations that he forcibly kissed and groped a woman after taking a selfie with her at a Boston restaurant in 2017.
Steven Senne/POOL/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

During questioning, Tene recalled her encounter with Batali in March 2017. She first captured a photograph of Batali over her shoulder with her cell phone and then the chef reportedly invited her to take a selfie with him.

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As they posed for the pictures, "His right hand was all over my breast. All over my rear end. He was grabbing me in a way that I had never been touched before. Squeezing in between my legs. Squeezing me in my vagina to pull me closer," Tene alleged of Batali, per the Globe.

She added: "I shouldn't even say in which order. But there was touching of my breasts. Touching my sensitive feminine areas in between my legs. Touching all over my face. His lips on the side of my face. His tongue in my ear. Just a lot of touching."

Tene testified that Batali was reportedly intoxicated and allegedly smelled of alcohol. She also said that she denied Batali's requests for her to come to his hotel room, instead paying her bill and leaving with her friend who she had been at the bar with.

The Globe reported that Tene testified that she decided to come forward with her allegations after she read a story online about other women's claims against Batali.

When asked why she filed both a civil suit and a criminal case against Batali, Tene said, "This happened to me and this is my life. And I want to be able to take control of what happened. And come forward, say my piece, get the truth out there. And hold everyone accountable for their actions. I'll be accountable for my actions and everyone in this room can be accountable for their actions as well."

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Anthony Fuller, who is representing Batali, argued during the first day of the trial that Tene fabricated the details of meeting with his client.

"The defense in this case is very simple. It didn't happen. By the end of it you'll realize she's not telling the truth,'' Fuller said during his opening statement, per the Globe.

Explaining that photographs and videos "do not show any indecent assault and battery," Fuller added: "We will show you substantial evidence that she has concocted this whole story."

Fuller also detailed that he plans to showcase texts between Tene and her friends, which allegedly show her using the article about other women accusing Batali of assault as a chance for herself to make money.

In one text, Fuller alleges that Tene spoke of trying to get $10,000 for her photos of Batali, the Globe reported.

When asked in court if she was "doing this for money," Tene responded: "No, absolutely not."

Tene's lawyer, Matthew Fogelman, told the Times that he would not be commenting on the civil or criminal cases filed by his client until the criminal matter was resolved.

RELATED VIDEO: Celebrity Chef Mario Batali Accused of Sexual Misconduct by Multiple Women

Batali was first accused of sexual harassment and assault in December 2017. Eater reported the famed chef allegedly groped four different women and engaged in inappropriate touching spanning two decades, and another accuser subsequently claimed on 60 Minutes that he drugged and assaulted her while she was unconscious in 2005.

In January 2019, NYPD officials closed three sexual assault investigations involving the chef, telling the New York Times, "the charges in two of the case were beyond the New York State statute of limitations, which was lifted in 2006, but not made retroactive," while the third allegation was dropped due to lack of criminal evidence.

A four-year investigation by New York State Attorney General Letitia James found that Batali, Bastianich and their management company B&B Hospitality Group violated state and city human rights laws.

As part of a settlement with the Attorney General, Batali and fellow celeb chef Joe Bastianich were later ordered to pay $600,000 to 20 people who were sexually harassed while working at the pair's restaurants, according to court documents, from July 2021.

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