- A woman who accused chef Mario Batali of groping her took the stand in his sexual misconduct trial.
- “He was grabbing me in a way I’ve never been touched before,” Natali Tene, 32, testified in Boston.
- Batali has pleaded not guilty to a charge of indecent assault and battery in connection to the case.
BOSTON – A Massachusetts woman who has accused disgraced celebrity chef Mario Batali of forcibly kissing and groping her five years ago took the stand in his sexual misconduct trial on Monday, testifying that she was left “shocked” and “mortified” by the alleged ordeal.
“He was grabbing me in a way I’ve never been touched before,” Natali Tene, 32, testified in Boston Municipal Court after Batali, 61, waived his right to have a jury decide the outcome of his trial.
Batali pleaded not guilty in 2019 to a charge of indecent assault and battery in connection to the case.
Tene claims that a drunken Batali repeatedly kissed and groped her without her consent at a Boston bar in 2017 as she took selfies with the high-profile chef.
“It was like a selfie but other things were happening simultaneously,” said Tene, explaining that Batali touched her “sensitive feminine areas,” as he put his hands on her breast, squeezed in between her legs, and put his tongue in her ear .
Tene testified that Batali’s “hands were all over my face, his lips were all over my face.”
The woman was at the now-shuttered Towne Stove and Spirits near Boston’s Eataly on March 31, 2017, when she recognized Batali, who was a part-owner in Eataly at the time.
Tene said she snapped a picture of Batali on her cellphone and he called her over.
“Hey, I’m so sorry I can delete the picture right now,” Tene said as she recalled what she said to Batali.
Tene said Batali was unbothered by the snap and instead offered to take selfies with her, which she did.
They took about 10 photos together, said Tene, adding that the groping and the kissing “all happened so fast.”
Batali kept saying “one more, one more,” said Tene.
Tene testified that she finally left after Batali invited her back to the Mandarin Oriental where he was staying.
She was “really shocked, surprised, alarmed,” by the incident and left feeling “mortified” and “disgusted, she testified.
“I was so shocked that something like this could happen,” Tene said.
Batali’s defense attorney Anthony Fuller told Tene that she was smiling in the photos she took with Batali as he cross-examined her, but Tene argued it was a “grimace.”
Batali faces up to two-and-a-half years in jail and would be forced to register as a sex offender if he is convicted in the case.