Celebrity chef Mario Batali was cut from The Chew in December 2017 after confessing to a pattern of inappropriate behavior, and now, things are getting ugly. On Sunday, May 20, a New York Police Department spokesperson confirmed to 60 MInutes that the TV star is under criminal investigation. This came about after another woman claimed he sexually assaulted her during a new interview with Anderson Cooper.
Her anonymous claim is that Mario sexually assaulted her at his NYC restaurant, The Spotted Pig. She revealed he may have drugged and raped her after she woke up at The Spotted Pig with semen on her leg. She didn’t file a police report until now. Other women — who refused to talk to 60 Minutes — said Mario had inappropriately touched them and that they once saw him sexually assault another woman.
According to TMZ, this incident isn’t the only thing Mario is being investigated for. A Texas woman also claimed Mario raped her back in January 2004 at his other NYC restaurant, Babbo, but she didn’t file a police report with the NYPD until March of this year. She says this happened before The Spotted Pig incidents.
So what exactly has happened with Mario up until now? ABC completed their investigation on Thursday, Dec. 14 after four women accused him of sexual misconduct in an article for Eater published on Monday, Dec. 11, and they decided that he needed to go. “While we remain unaware of any type of inappropriate behavior involving him and anyone affiliated with our show, ABC takes matters like this very seriously as we are committed to a safe work environment and his past behavior violates our standards of conduct,” said the network, according to TMZ.
The gross allegations against Mario span at least two decades, and three of the accusers had been his employees in the past. One of the women described an encounter she had with Mario about 10 years ago, during which she spilled some wine down her shirt. The 57-year-old allegedly groped her, saying, “Let me help you with that.”
“He just went to town, and I was so shocked,” she recalled. “Jaw on the ground, I just stepped back from him in utter disgust and walked away.” The others also shared stories of similar incidents that involved Mario grabbing them from behind or pressing into them.
The women said they kept quiet out of fear. “He has clear intent on being threatening when he is wronged,” one of the victims, who reportedly worked for the chef in the 1990s, explained. “And the level of vindictiveness is very chilling. So, it never occurred to me to share tales out of school.”
After the stories came to light, Mario said he’d be taking a leave of absence from his restaurant empire as well as The Chew. “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,” he said in a statement to Eater. “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.”
He continued, “I know my actions have disappointed many people. The successes I have enjoyed are owned by everyone on my team. The failures are mine alone. To the people who have been at my side during this time — my family, my partners, my employees, my friends, my fans — I am grateful for your support and hopeful that I can regain your respect and trust. I will spend the next period of time trying to do that.”
In a statement to People magazine, ABC revealed, “We have asked Mario Batali to step away from The Chew while we review the allegations that have just recently come to our attention. ABC takes matters like this very seriously as we are committed to a safe work environment. While we are unaware of any type of inappropriate behavior involving him and anyone affiliated with the show, we will swiftly address any alleged violations of our standards of conduct.”
Still, though, on a daily basis out-of-the-loop fans of the show question what happened to the celebrity chef, and miss seeing him on the daytime TV program. “Hang in there Mario, I still support you,” wrote on fan on Twitter. “You will make a comeback someday. I don’t agree with you on any of your political preferences but I respect you and miss you on The Chew.” “Mr Mario Batali when you coming back to The Chew? I miss you and your way of cooking on the set with the guests on the show,” said another.
Meanwhile, some fans are glad he’s gone. “My wife and I have watched every episode of The Chew, except for the first couple of season 1. We really like the program with Mario gone. The program seems much friendlier,” said another. Star Carla Hall agrees, admitting to People, “Nobody can hide. With three people, you really can’t say, ‘Okay, those four will take care of it.’ You have to be engaged and I think we’ve become closer, because even when you have a cooking segment and it’s the three of us, everybody is joining in. It has been so much fun because we’ve had to raise the energy.”