Fifth Woman Accuses Mario Batali of Sexual Misconduct

Mario Batali - Fast Company Innovation Festival - Getty - H 2017
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On her Twitter account, actress and comedian Siobhan Thompson applauded the Eater exposé into the celebrity chef's behavior.

A fifth woman has come forward with a sexual harassment claim against celebrity chef Mario Batali. Actress and comedian Siobhan Thompson claims Batali touched her breasts without her consent. 

Thompson, once a hostess at Batali restaurant Del Posto, spoke to CBS News. Her claim follows a Monday Eater report where four women, all speaking anonymously, leveled sexual harassment allegations against the award-winning chef and TV host, some dating as far back as two decades. 

Of the four women who spoke to Eater, three were former employees of the B&B Hospitality Group owner, who runs an empire of 23 restaurants and five Eataly marketplaces and has 11 cookbooks to his name. All four claim Batali groped them without their consent. The one accuser who never worked for Batali, who was identified only as a fellow chef, recalled how the famously known Iron Chef star groped her chest after she was accidentally splashed with wine at a party. “He just went to town, and I was so shocked,” she said. “Jaw on the ground, I just stepped back from him in utter disgust and walked away.”

Thompson had replied to the Eater story on her Twitter account, saying, "I worked at Del Posto (his fanciest restaurant in NYC) and can confirm that not only was Mario Batali very handsy, they would often serve us pasta with cut up hot dogs as family meal." (The Hollywood Reporter has reached out to Thomspon.)

In response to the claims, the Food Network and ABC star apologized and admitted that the behavior described in the Eater report "does, in fact, match up with ways I have acted." He announced that he would be stepping away from the day-to-day operations of his businesses for an unspecified period of time. ABC suspended his role as co-host of daytime talk show The Chew while it reviews the allegations, and the Food Network has since put plans to revive his Molto Mario series, which made Batali a household name when it launched in the 1990s, on hold.

The network had planned to air six new episodes in 2018 but told Eater after the accusations surfaced, "Food Network takes matters like this very seriously, and we are putting relaunch plans for Molto Mario on hold." 

Eater editor in chief Amanda Kludt told CBS News that her company is still investigating the chef but that, so far, the investigation has not turned up any claims relating to Batali's TV shows. Batali is the first ABC star to be taken off the air as a result of sexual harassment allegations and follows disgraced daytime hosts Matt Lauer of NBC and Charlie Rose of CBS, who were both fired by their respective networks over sexual misconduct allegations.

On Monday night, NBC's Seth Meyers was the only late-night host to take a swipe at Batali. During his Late Night monologue, Meyers said that when Batali found out about the accusations, he "was so depressed he could barely dress himself for the past five years." Meyers included a photo of the Croc-wearing chef.