A woman who accused Mario Batali of groping her at a Boston restaurant said the celebrity chef was “holding me in a way that I’ve never been touched before,” as she opened up about her sexual misconduct on Monday. Testified at trial.
Natalie Tene, 32, filed a lawsuit against Batali, 61, over an alleged 2017 incident in which she claimed he non-consensually kissed her, rubbed her breasts, grabbed her by the back and placed a hand between her legs. gave.
He told the court, “I want to be able to control what happened and come forward, speak my mind, get the truth out.” “And hold everyone accountable for their actions.”
Her testimony in Boston Municipal Court came after Batali – in a surprise move – waived her right to a jury trial, leaving her fate in the hands of Judge James Stanton.
The disgraced restaurant owner who denies the charges could face up to 2 1/2 years in prison and be required to register as a sex offender if convicted.
According to the Boston Globe, Tene first took the stand and went through the alleged March 31, 2017 incident to the judge, saying that he took a picture of Batali when he saw her in a bar around midnight and then he called him.
She apologizes to Batali for taking the picture without her permission, and then suggests that they take a selfie.
That’s when he started groping her, he claimed.
“Her right hand was on my entire breast. On my back end,'” Tene testified. “He was holding me in a way that I had never been touched before. Squeezing between my legs. Pressing me into his vagina to pull me closer.”
She continued: “It was all happening so quickly… touching my breasts. Touching my sensitive feminine areas between my legs. Touching my whole face. Her lips on the side of my face. Me. His tongue in the ear. Just very touching.”
After that, Tene immediately left the bar, he told the judge.
Batali’s lawyer, Anthony Fuller, said in his opening statement on Monday that the allegation was “not true.”
“It’s being coined for money and entertainment,” Fuller told the judge.
The photos and videos “show no indecent assault and battery,” he said. “We will show you strong evidence that he fabricated this whole story.”
He attempted to defame Tene, noting that she had once landed her in hot water for lying to get out of jury duty, by telling a Massachusetts court that she was a clairvoyant.
Tene is making both civil and criminal charges against Chef.
She claimed “not at all” is suing Chef just for money, noting that she came forward after reading about other sexual misconduct allegations against Batali.
Four other women accused the chef of inappropriately touching her in 2017, prompting her to withdraw from TV roles and operating her restaurant empire, which includes Eataly, in which she has sold her stake.