Mario Batali Is Being Investigated for a New Claim That He Drugged and Sexually Assaulted a Woman in His Restaurant
Just one day after a source at the New York Police Department confirmed to the Huffington Post that Batali is under criminal investigation for a sexual assault accusation, the New York Times is reporting another woman has come forward with a similar allegation.
According to the New York Times, the previously unreported complaint states that a woman told police on March 15 that Batali drugged and sexually assaulted her in 2004 at Babbo, his restaurant in New York City’s Greenwich Village. The unidentified woman says she went to use the restroom upstairs and the next memory she had was waking up as Batali was raping her, according to an anonymous source familiar with the complaint.
The 60 Minutes report that aired on CBS Sunday featured multiple accusers who discussed their stories with correspondent Anderson Cooper. On Monday, NYPD Lieutenant John Grimpel confirmed to PEOPLE they are investigating allegations raised in the report.
One of the women, whose identity was protected by the program, accused Batali of drugging and sexually assaulting her while she was unconscious in 2005 at the Spotted Pig, another Greenwich Village restaurant co-owned by restaurateur Ken Friedman, who was also accused of sexual harassment in December.
“I woke up by myself on the floor, I don’t know where I am, of an empty room, wooden floor,” said the woman, who told 60 Minutes that she was an employee at Babbo at the time. “I see broken bottles. The first thing I think is, ‘I’ve been drugged.’ That was the first thing I thought is, ‘I’ve been — I’ve been assaulted.'”
The woman, who says she was drinking wine with Batali before passing out, says she reported the incident after finding scratches on her leg and apparent semen on her skirt, but did not file a complaint despite a NYPD detective encouraging her to do so.
In a statement Batali tells PEOPLE: “I vehemently deny any allegations of sexual assault. My past behavior has been deeply inappropriate and I am sincerely remorseful for my actions. I am not attempting a professional comeback. My only focus is finding a personal path forward where I can continue in my charitable endeavors – helping the underprivileged and those in need.”
“Many others also said that working for him required tolerating daily kisses and touches, pulling all-night shifts at private parties that included public sex and nudity, and enduring catcalls and gropes from guests who are Mr. Friedman’s friends,” the article reads.
Friedman issued an apology after the report was released, saying: “Some incidents were not as described, but context and content are not today’s discussion. I apologize now publicly for my actions.” He then said his behavior is accurately described as “abrasive, rude and frankly wrong.”
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As first reported by Eater, Batali was accused in December of groping several women that 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 Eaterfollowing the initial allegations,Batali, who was fired from ABC’s The Chew in December, 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.”
In a statement to PEOPLE on Sunday, B&B Hospitality Group — Batali’s restaurant company he co-founded in 1988 with his business partners Joe and Lidia Bastianich — described the stories on 60 Minutes as “chilling and deeply disturbing,” adding, “This was the first we learned of them.”
“Our partnership with Mr. Batali is ending,” B&B Hospitality Group continued. “We have been actively negotiating with Mr. Batali to buy his interests in the restaurants, and he and Joe Bastianich have signed a letter of intent that sets forth the broad terms to do so. We expect to have the final terms set by July 1, and that Nancy Silverton, Lidia Bastianich, Mr. Bastianich, and other current investors will participate in the acquisition.”