Adding to the list of men in Hollywood finding themselves under fire, celebrity chef Mario Batali has been accused of sexual misconduct by four women in an article published on Eater New York on Monday, Dec. 11. The allegations reportedly date back two decades and include alleged inappropriate touching. In a statement released to Eater New York, Batali acknowledged that the "behavior was wrong and there are no excuses." (Bustle reached out to Batali's rep for further comment, but did not receive an immediate response.)
UPDATE, Dec. 14: On Thursday, The Chew's official Facebook page confirmed Batali will no longer be on the talk show. They posted the following statement, attributed to an ABC spokesperson:
"Upon completing its review into the allegations made against Mario Batali, ABC has terminated its relationship with him and he will no longer appear on 'The Chew.' While we remain unaware of any type of inappropriate behavior involving him and anyone affiliated with our show, ABC takes matters like this very seriously as we are committed to a safe work environment and his past behavior violates our standards of conduct."
EARLIER: The chef's statement reads, in part:
“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. 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."
Eater is also reporting that Batali is stepping away from his businesses' day-to-day operations, while ABC asked him to step away from The Chew as they review the allegations. He's co-hosted the daytime talk show since it began in 2011. An ABC spokesperson told Bustle in a statement:
“We have asked Mario Batali to step away from The Chew while we review the allegations that have just recently come to our attention. ABC takes matters like this very seriously as we are committed to a safe work environment. While we are unaware of any type of inappropriate behavior involving him and anyone affiliated with the show, we will swiftly address any alleged violations of our standards of conduct.”
The allegations include a woman, who was in her 20s at the time, meeting Batali at a party around 10 years ago. After wine accidentally spilled on her chest, she claims he allegedly rubbed her breasts with his bare hands. The woman, who was a chef and initially excited to meet such a well-known figure, claimed to Eater, "He just went to town, and I was so shocked. Jaw on the ground, I just stepped back from him in utter disgust and walked away."
According to Eater, the three other women accusing Batali of alleged sexual misconduct worked for him at one time or another. One of them claims he allegedly grabbed her from behind and held her body tightly to his, while one claims he groped her and allegedly "compelled her to straddle him" on a separate occasion. Similar to the first allegation, the final woman alleges he grabbed her breasts at a party, but it was after they worked together.
The publication is also reporting that the chef was reportedly reprimanded for "inappropriate behavior in the work place" two months ago. His company, Batali & Bastianich Hospitality Group, told Eater that a restaurant employee reported inappropriate behavior in October, which was the first formal complaint against him. Batali reportedly underwent training from the company.
As for Batali's own statement on the whole situation, he continued,
"We built these restaurants so that our guests could have fun and indulge, but I took that too far in my own behavior. I won’t make that mistake again. I want any place I am associated with to feel comfortable and safe for the people who work or dine there."
He also added that he knows his actions "have disappointed many people," and "the failures are mine alone."
If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, call the National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline at 800-656-HOPE (4673) or visit online.rainn.org.