Mario Batali’s sexual misconduct trial opened Monday in a Boston court with his accuser recounting how she’d been “shocked, surprised and alarmed” as the celebrity chef aggressively kissed and groped her while taking selfies at a restaurant in 2017.
The 32-year-old Boston-area software company worker said she felt confused and powerless to do anything to stop Batali as he grabbed her “in a way that I have never been touched before.”
“It was all happening so quickly and it was happening essentially the whole time,” the woman testified in Boston Municipal Court. “Just a lot of touching.”
“This happened to me and this is my life,” the woman said. “I want to be able to take control of what happened, come forward, say my piece and have everyone be accountable for their actions.”
Batali’s lawyer, Anthony Fuller, sought to discredit her, arguing that the assault never happened.
He said the accuser has a financial incentive to lie as she’s seeking more than $50,000 in damages from Batali in a separate civil lawsuit pending in Suffolk Superior Court in Boston.
“She’s not being truthful,” Fuller said. “This is being fabricated for money and for fun.”
The woman strongly pushed back at Fuller for questioning why none of the many photos taken with Batali that night showed the alleged assault.
The woman said the photos were all taken relatively close up and didn’t show how Batali, who she said was visibly drunk, was grabbing her private areas, touching her face and even sticking his tongue in her ear. She said he also invited her up to his hotel room afterward, which she declined.
“I have never been touched before like that,” the woman said. “Squeezing my vagina to pull me closer to him, as if that’s a normal way to grab someone.”
During cross examination, Fuller produced financial statements showing the woman ate at Eataly, the Italian marketplace Batali once owned, weeks after the encounter and continued to patronize the Boston bar where the alleged assault took place.
“You go to the restaurant of the guy who you claimed brutally assaulted you?” he said. “That doesn’t make sense.”
Monday’s trial opened after Batali — in a surprise move — waived his right to a jury trial and opted instead to have a judge decide his fate.