Celebrity chef Mario Batali acquitted of sexual misconduct

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Only two witnesses testified during the trial, both for the prosecution. Ms Tene, 32, who works in the software industry, spent most of the first day at the bar, describing meeting Mr Batali late one night at Towne Stove and Spirits, a bar in the Back Bay neighborhood of Boston which has since closed.

Mr. Batali saw her surreptitiously take a picture of him a few seats away from the bar, then invited her to take pictures with him, she said. At the start of the photoshoot, she testified, as did the forced kisses and groping.

The only other witness called was a friend of Ms Tene, Rachel Buckley, 37. She said Ms Tene sent her a picture of Mr Batali the night they met, along with texts that described him as looking extremely drunk but didn’t. I don’t mention that he caught her. Details of Mr Batali’s groping and kissing emerged in later conversations, Ms Buckley said.

Much of the evidence at trial came from two years of text messages from Ms Tene, which sometimes showed she was flippant about selling the photos or getting money from Mr Batali. They revealed incidents in which she lied to opt out of a gym membership and, in an attempt to avoid jury duty, told another court that she was clairvoyant. Once she was seated on that jury, she broke court rules by researching the defendant’s background and texting a friend that she thought he was guilty.

The judge noted these incidents and her disdain for the courts, as well as photos from the night at the bar that showed her smiling after her first meeting with Mr. Batali. Three minutes later, she took another round of selfies with the chef.

“His reaction or lack thereof to the alleged assault is telling,” the judge said.

Just before giving his decision, Judge Stanton also reprimanded Mr Batali. “His conduct, appearance and demeanor were not befitting a public figure of his stature at the time,” he said. “It’s a lesson for all those people in public or celebrity positions.”

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