April 09, 2018 04:02 PM

Comedian Jim Gaffigan has opened up about his friendship with chef Mario Batali for the first time following five women accusing Batali of sexual misconduct in December 2017.

When asked about the former The Chew co-host, Gaffigan told Confidential he still has a positive opinion of Batali. “I love Mario,” Gaffigan said, praising “the generosity he showed to our family when my wife was in the hospital and when we went to his restaurant and she could only eat soup.”

After the news broke that Batali was accused of groping several different women, the comedian said he didn’t spend much time focusing on the headlines.

“I read a little bit and I made a point of not reading too much because I like him and I know he’s really got a good soul and a good heart,” he told the publication. “Given I don’t know the details. I don’t know. I’m a Catholic. I feel like we should all work on forgiveness.”

Last May, Gaffigan and his wife Jeannie, who was diagnosed with a brain tumor, told PEOPLE Batali sent their family dinner three nights in a row.

“People are so generous, it’s really made me believe that there’s hope for humanity,” Gaffigan said at the time.

In July, Gaffigan took Jeannie to Batali’s Del Posto restaurant in New York City where the chef created a custom 7-course soup menu for their 14th wedding anniversary when she could “not comfortably eat solids.”

The allegations against Batali, which were first reported by Eater, involved “inappropriate touching in a pattern of behavior that spans at least two decades.” Three of the accusers worked for Batali, with one former employee claiming that he grabbed her from behind and pressed her against him repeatedly over the course of two years. Two others described incidents where Batali groped them.

In a statement to Eater following the allegations, Batali said: “I apologize to the people I have mistreated and hurt. Although the identities of most of the individuals mentioned in these stories have not been revealed to me, much of the behavior described does, in fact, match up with ways I have acted. That behavior was wrong and there are no excuses. I take full responsibility and am deeply sorry for any pain, humiliation or discomfort I have caused to my peers, employees, customers, friends and family.”

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