Mario Batali has been accused of groping an unconscious woman in the upstairs lounge of his popular New York eatery by former employees of the restaurant. The lounge area had been given the infamous nickname of the “rape room.”
The celebrity chef came under fire this week after multiple women came forward to accuse him of sexual harassment. Four women spoke to Eater New York, alleging misconduct that took place over the course of 20 years and mostly at this famed New York restaurant. The women alleged that he made unwanted advances, groped them, and grew even more aggressive in his advances after the restaurant’s co-owner asked him to stop when multiple employees complained.
The allegations forced Mario Batali to step away from the day-to-day duties at his restaurant and take a break as co-host of the ABC show, The Chew, but it doesn’t appear the issue is over yet. This week, the New York Post‘s Page Six published a lurid account of Batali allegedly groping an unconscious woman in the upstairs lounge of the famous Manhattan restaurant, Spotted Pig, an area nicknamed the “rape room.”
Longtime server Trish Nelson said that Mario Batali was nicknamed “Red Menace” for his uncontrollable behavior and that he tried to touch her breasts. Former manager Jamie Seet also said he saw Batali kissing and groping a woman who appeared to be unconscious.
It is not clear if Mario Batali could face a criminal investigation for the sexual harassment and sexual assault allegations, but the controversy has already done damage to his business ventures. This week, the co-hosts of The Chew released a statement that appeared to distance themselves from Batali and the allegations against him.
“Yesterday, allegations of past improper behavior surfaced about our own Mario Batali, and ABC asked him to step away from the show while those allegations are reviewed,” they said (via Delish). “We want you to know we take these matters very seriously and are committed to a safe work environment. Our commitment to our viewers remains the same — to deliver the entertaining show that you’ve come to expect.”
The allegations against Mario Batali come amid a wave of scandals involving powerful men in the entertainment world. Movie executive Harvey Weinstein was sacked from the company he founded after a series of women came forward to allege sexual impropriety, and Democratic Senator Al Franken stepped down after a number of women accused him of inappropriately hugging and touching them.