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In Batali: The Fall of a Superstar Chef, which premieres on the streaming platform Thursday, a former employee of one of Batali’s restaurants, Eva DeVirgilis, accuses Batali of sexually assaulting her in 2005 after taking her to a business he had invested in, The Spotted Pig. According to the documentary, DeVirgilis — a former hostess at West Village restaurant Babbo — previously told some of her story anonymously to Anderson Cooper on 60 Minutes but has not told it on the record before.
The New York Times, which ran a story on DeVirgilis’ claims Wednesday, reported that DeVirgilis was one of more than 20 former employees at Batali and colleague Joe Bastianich’s restaurants who were awarded a $600,000 settlement for claims of sexual harassment in New York in 2021.
The Hollywood Reporter has reached out to Batali’s attorneys for comment.
In the documentary, helmed by Singeli Agnew (who has previously directed episodes of The Weekly), DeVirgilis claims that one night in June 2005, she accepted Batali’s invitation to go to celebrity hotspot The Spotted Pig after work. She says Batali picked her up in a limo after her shift ended, and when she arrived at the restaurant, they were seated at a candlelit table for two and “the wine kept pouring.” DeVirgilis recalls, “I was like, ‘OK, well, I’m getting very tipsy, I’m feeling tipsy, I need to go home, I have to open the restaurant in the morning.’ He was like, ‘Fuck the restaurant, fuck work, I’m the boss,’ and everyone was like, ‘Yay!'”
According to DeVirgilis, she blacked out not long after. “And then I have a moment of flash where I’m being kissed by him, very like hard, and then I have another flash where I’m throwing up in a toilet, I sense that he’s behind me and then there was nothing,” she says in the documentary. She recalls waking up on a hardwood floor and wondering if she had been drugged because “I’m not the type of person that throws up. I don’t black out.” She adds, “I went to the bathroom and I saw there were deep scratches on the inside of my legs. And I saw on the back of the skirt, it looked like something, it looked like semen. And when I saw that, I was terrified.”
DeVirgilis says she went to New York’s Mount Sinai Hospital, where she had a rape kit examination completed. She says she asked if she could take a drug test, but was told that since the incident occurred the previous night, any potential drugs would have likely already passed through her system. She says she ultimately decided not to file a police report. “I was afraid of him, I was afraid of never working in this city, I didn’t want to file a report,” she says. (Jane Manning, the director of Women’s Equal Justice Project and a former sex crimes prosecutor, notes in the documentary that at this time in New York City, rape kits were not processed unless a police investigation had been opened into the incident.)
Later, DeVirgilis adds, “I wish I had [filed a report], but I wasn’t ready and I didn’t have the resources and I just…I wasn’t, it’s too scary. It’s still scary. It’s scary now.”
The New York Times, which interviewed DeVirgilis for its story, says she wouldn’t comment on whether she has since gone to the police about the incident.
Batali was found not guilty of sexual assault in a trial in Boston in May and settled two lawsuits, including one involving claims that went to trial, in August. The 2021 settlement in New York, meanwhile, came after an investigation by State Attorney General Letitia James’ office found that “B&B [management company B&B Hospitality], Batali, and Bastianich had engaged in unlawful sex discrimination and retaliation, in violation of state and city human rights laws,” James’ office stated at the time. In 2019 the New York Police Department closed two investigations of sexual misconduct claims against Batali, with an official telling CNN that they could not find probable cause in the cases and one was outside the statute of limitations.
Batali was first accused of sexual misconduct in a December 2017 story in Eater. After, he issued an apology that stated, “My behavior was wrong and there are no excuses.” Batali added, “I take full responsibility,” and included a link for pizza dough cinnamon rolls at the end of the note.
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