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Mario Batali Is Being Investigated By The NYPD For Allegedly Assaulting A Woman In A 'Rape Room'
The alleged assault happened in a posh restaurant's private playroom, nicknamed the "rape room."
The NYPD is investigating celebrity chef Mario Batali after accusations emerged that he drugged and sexually assaulted a woman in a private room at a posh Manhattan restaurant.
The woman told 60 Minutes Sunday that, while she worked at Batali's Babbo restaurant in 2005, he invited her to a party at the Spotted Pig, a restaurant with celebrity investors including Jay-Z and Michael Stipe.
The Spotted Pig featured an exclusive third-floor playroom where celebrities can party in private, according to the New York Times. But it earned a notorious nickname: the "Rape Room."
The woman said Batali brought her there and started kissing her before she blacked out. She said she woke up near dawn on the floor, surrounded by broken bottles, with deep scratches in one of her legs.
“The first thing I think is ‘I’ve been drugged.’ That was the first thing I thought, that I’ve been assaulted,” the woman told 60 Minutes.
She said she didn’t “feel any trauma internally,” but saw two spots on her skirt that looked like semen.
She said she asked Batali the next day what happened, and he refused to speak to her.
60 Minutes broadcast its interview with the woman without revealing her identity.
Former Spotted Pig manager Jamie Seet also told 60 Minutes that Batali groped an unconscious woman in the "Rape Room."
"You know he crossed a line...Assaulting someone that’s unconscious," Seet told Anderson Cooper.
"So we all went out there, and we stopped what was going on."
Batali issued a statement saying: “I vehemently deny the allegation that I sexually assaulted this woman. My past behavior has been deeply inappropriate and I am sincerely remorseful for my actions."
The NYPD confirmed to Oxygen.com Monday that it is investigating Batali.
Batali, 57, is famous for his gregarious TV personality and his signature look — a fleece vest, shorts and orange crocs. He has an ownership stake in about 24 restaurants, including Del Posto and Babbo, each of which holds a Michelin star, as well as Eataly USA, a gourmet Italian market chain.
After opening Po in New York City in 1993, Batali rose to fame as host of “Molto Mario,” a cable television show that was broadcast by the Food Network from 1997 until 2004. Batali also co-hosted “The Chew,” a cooking show on ABC, from 2011 until December 2017, when he was fired after reports of misconduct.
Batali repeatedly groped and sexually harassed women, according to Eater, which broke the story in December that four women complained about Batali’s behavior. Three of the women were former employees.
Batali did not deny those allegations. Instead, he issued a statement admitting that the allegations “match up with ways I have acted.”
“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," it said.
Batali stepped away from his restaurant empire after the revelations.