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Mario Batali Backs Away From Restaurant Empire After Four Sexual Misconduct Allegations

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Anders Hagstrom Justice Reporter
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Celebrity Chef Mario Batali has stepped away from his culinary empire Monday after four women came forward accusing him of sexual misconduct.

The four unnamed women referenced alleged incidents over the last 20 years, claiming Batali drunkenly groped their breasts or compelling them to straddle him, Eater reported Monday. Batali released an apologetic statement to to the website, in which he acknowledged the accusations had merit.

One woman claims Batali groped her breasts 10 years ago at an industry party. She described starting up a conversation with a drunk Batali when she accidentally spilled wine on her shirt. Batali then allegedly grabbed her breasts and “went down.”

Three of the accusers worked under Batali at some point, and the chef’s company, Batali & Bastianich Hospitality Group, reprimanded him for misconduct as recently as October. He released the following statement on Monday:

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.

I have work to do to try to regain the trust of those I have hurt and disappointed. For this reason, I am going to step away from day-to-day operations of my businesses. 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.

I know my actions have disappointed many people. The successes I have enjoyed are owned by everyone on my team. The failures are mine alone. To the people who have been at my side during this time — my family, my partners, my employees, my friends, my fans — I am grateful for your support and hopeful that I can regain your respect and trust. I will spend the next period of time trying to do that.

ABC has also asked Batali to step down from his daily cooking show, “The Chew,” while the allegations are investigated.

“ABC takes matters like this very seriously as we are committed to a safe work environment,” ABC told CNNMoney. “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.”

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