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Mario Batali. (Photo by Dave Kotinsky/Getty Images for NYCWFF)

'Red Menace'

Mario Batali assaulted unconscious woman in restaurant’s ‘rape room,’ report says

By WITW Staff on December 12, 2017

New troubling details are emerging about celebrity chef Mario Batali’s alleged predatory behavior, a day after he stepped down from his businesses and TV show amid numerous accusations of sexual assault and harassment. The latest revelations emerged in a report by The New York Times about one of Batali’s restaurant industry colleagues, Ken Friedman, who is also facing accusations of sexual misconduct. Friedman is the powerful owner of the Manhattan hotspot The Spotted Pig.

In the report, Trish Nelson, a former server at The Spotted Pig, described an incident in 2008 in which she said she spotted Batali on the restaurant’s closed circuit security camera system fondling and kissing a woman who appeared to be unconscious. Batali, she said, was drunk and the incident occurred in a third-floor after-hours section of the restaurant that came to be known as the “rape room” because normal rules did not apply there and servers, working late-night parties that often lasted past the break of day, were routinely groped by the clientele. Nelson intervened in that instance.

Batali didn’t deny the incident, but told the Times he couldn’t remember it having happened. “Though I don’t remember these specific accounts, there is no question I have behaved terribly,” Batali said in an email to the Times. “There are no excuses. I take full responsibility and am deeply sorry for any pain, humiliation or discomfort I have caused.”

Nelson said she, too, had been subjected to Batali’s unwanted advances and that employees at the Spotted Pig came up with a nickname for him that took inspiration from his hair color and his boorish behavior. “We called him the Red Menace.” she said. “He tried to touch my breasts and told me that they were beautiful. He wanted to wrestle. As I was serving drinks to his table, he told me I should sit on his friend’s face.”

Meanwhile, The Washington Post reported the accounts of other accusers who said that Batali’s sexual misconduct also coincided with drunkenness. One former employee at Batali’s glitzy L.A. restaurant Osteria Mazza recalled a 2010 incident in which the celebrity chef was inebriated and lascivious. Holly Gunderson, the special events director said she was working a high-profile private dinner when the intoxicated Batali allegedly “looked me up and down and he said, you know, with a twinkle in his eye, ‘I want to see you naked in my hot tub back in the hotel.’” Gunderson said nearby witnesses who overheard the remark “looked at me like, ‘Oh my God, I can’t believe he said that about you.’” Later in the evening, Gunderson said, Batali found her and groped her. She said the chef put his hand “between my legs, up and under, so his hand went on my vagina outside of my clothes. And then he moved his hand backward. So, you know, under my butt. And then continued walking.”

Below watch a video with more on Batali’s alleged misconduct and the continued fallout.

Read the full story at The New York Post.

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