Mario Batali steps away from businesses, TV show amid sexual harassment allegations

MANILA, Philippines - Mario Batali announced he is stepping away from the operations of his businesses for an undetermined period of time after women have come forward with claims that the chef has sexually harassed them. ABC has also asked Batali to step away from The Chew, a show he has co-hosted since 2011.

According to Eater, 4 women so far have accused Batali of sexual harassment, with one of them, also a chef, claiming that he groped her breasts under the pretext of cleaning wine that he spilled on her shirt.

The other 3 women also work in the restaurant industry, where Batali has been a prominent figure. One woman spoke of incidents where Batali grabbed her from behind and held her tightly, while another woman said that Batali groped her and made her straddle him. Another woman said that Batali grabbed her breasts.

Batali did not deny the allegations, and issued an apology.

“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.”

Batali also said that he hopes people continue to enjoy his restaurants, saying “I want any place I am associated with to feel comfortable and safe for the people who work or dine there.”- Rappler.com