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The accuser of celebrity chef Mario Batali testified Monday in the sexual misconduct trial.
The trial began Monday in Boston after Batali waived his right to a jury trial. A judge will decide the leader’s fate at the end of the trial.
Batali was accused of groping a Massachusetts woman when she tried to take a selfie with him at a Boston-area bar in 2017.
While being questioned by prosecutors on Monday, the 32-year-old said Batali appeared drunk and was slurring his words and closing his eyes as they took several photos together at his insistence.
DISGRACED CELEBRITY CHEF MARIO BATALI OPT FOR NO JURY TRIAL IN SEXUAL MISCONDUCT CASE
The woman also testified that she felt embarrassed by the 2017 incident – until she saw other women come forward to share similar encounters with Batali.
“It happened to me and it’s my life,” the woman said when asked by prosecutors why she also decided to speak out. “I want to be able to take control of what happened, to come forward, to say what I can and for everyone to be responsible for their actions and behaviors.”
Batali’s attorney, Anthony Fuller, argued that the assault never happened and that the accuser was not a credible witness and had a financial incentive to lie.
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He also suggested that she joked about meeting her in text messages with friends and ate at Eataly, the Italian market Bataly once owned, after the meeting.
“She’s not telling the truth,” Fuller said. “This is made for money and for fun.”
Batali pleaded not guilty to a charge of indecent assault and assault in 2019.
If convicted, Batali would be required to register as a sex offender and could serve two and a half years in the Suffolk County Reformatory.
The woman also filed a civil complaint against Batali which is still pending. She seeks unspecified damages for “serious emotional distress”.
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Batali’s food empire included high-end restaurants such as Babbo in Del Posto in New York City as well as restaurants in Las Vegas, Los Angeles and Singapore. He became a household name thanks to appearances on Food Network shows such as “Iron Chef America.”
After four women accused him of sexual misconduct in 2017, Batali quit running his restaurants and was dropped from ABC’s hit cooking show, “The Chew.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.