STORY: "I'm going to find the defendant not guilty to the charge of indecent assault and battery."
Celebrity chef Mario Batali was acquitted on Tuesday of indecently assaulting a woman at a Boston bar in 2017, while posing with her for fan "selfie” photos.
Thirty-two year-old Natali Tene brought charges against Batali in 2019.
In the non-jury trial, she testified that he groped her and forcibly kissed her, while drunkenly posing for selfies with her.
But Boston Municipal Court Judge James Stanton concluded Tene had “significant credibility issues”, which supported the defence team’s claim that her motive was financial gain.
However, he had some words of advice for the 61-year-old chef too.
"It's an understatement to say that Mr. Batali did not cover himself in glory on the night in question. His conduct and his appearance and his demeanour were not befitting of a public person of his stature at that time. It is a lesson for all of those people and public with celebrity positions.”
If convicted, Batali could have faced up to 2.5 years in jail and registration as a sex offender.
Several women had made similar claims against him to the media, which led to Batali being fired from talk show "The Chew."
He later cut ties with restaurants including New York's Babbo and Del Posto that he partly owned.
He's denied allegations of sexual assault but apologized for "deeply inappropriate" behaviour.