In a new film, a woman who used to work for Mario Batali says that he sexually assaulted her.
A woman who worked for the chef tells what happened at the Spotted Pig in Manhattan one night.
When the famous chef Mario Batali settled two lawsuits last month that were brought by women in Boston who said he had touched them in public in 2017, it seemed like the long list of accusations against him was over.
Three possible sexual assaults were looked into by the New York Police Department, but no criminal charges were brought. In a 2021 settlement brokered by the New York State attorney general, Mr. Batali and his former business partner Joe Bastianich agreed to pay $600,000 to more than 20 employees who had been sexually harassed at their restaurants.
Now, in a new documentary film, one of those women comes forward and talks about how Mr. Batali sexually assaulted her. Eva DeVirgilis, who was 43 years old, worked at his most famous restaurant, Babbo, in Greenwich Village. She says that in 2005, after Mr. Batali invited her to an intimate dinner at the Spotted Pig, a nearby gastro pub where he was a regular and an investor, she was attacked while she was out and woke up the next morning on the floor of the restaurant's private dining room.
A hospital report from the next day, which Ms. DeVirgilis gave to The New York Times this week, shows that she had bruised ribs and multiple cuts. She also told doctors she thought she had been sexually assaulted and may have been given drugs.
In the movie "Batali: The Fall of a Superstar Chef," it is shown how Mr. Batali's status as a star chef protected him for years, even though it was well known that he had a habit of sexually harassing women. It will start on Discovery+ on Thursday. It is partly based on reporting from The Times, and the two reporters who wrote this article were interviewed for it.
In 2018, Ms. DeVirgilis told part of her story on an episode of "60 Minutes," but she did so without giving her name and with her face covered. After the segment aired, she got a call from the New York police, who were looking into whether Mr. Batali had done anything sexually wrong. But Ms. DeVirgilis says that she wasn't ready to tell the police or go public at that time.
Neither Mr. Batali nor his lawyers said anything when asked. Singeli Agnew, who directed the film, said she tried to get in touch with them several times while making the documentary, but they didn't answer.
In an interview for this article, Ms. DeVirgilis said that at the time of the incident, she had been working full-time at Babbo for a year, hosting at night and taking care of reservations during the day. Her father was thrilled because he liked to cook and Mr. Batali was one of his favorite chefs. As an aspiring actress, she was excited to work in a place where Gwyneth Paltrow and people from "The Sopranos" were regulars. She was 26 and had just been on "Law & Order: Criminal Intent." "I was getting closer to where I wanted to be," she said.
She said that she had heard Mr. Batali make dirty jokes and comments about women's bodies in the restaurant, but she wasn't afraid of him. She said, "I was so naive." "I knew not to walk across Central Park at night or be alone in a stairwell. I didn't know that I should be scared of my famous millionaire boss in public."
The Spotted Pig was a hot spot for celebrities, and Mr. Batali would often end the night there, partying with friends and coworkers in a private room on the second floor. Ms. DeVirgilis said that she was happy to be invited to the Spotted Pig on June 3, 2005, when Mr. DeVirgilis came to Babbo as it was closing and invited everyone to the Spotted Pig. She said, "I thought I'd have a drink or two with the group, then take the subway home."
In May, Mr. Batali was tried in Boston without a jury and found not guilty of indecent assault and battery.
But, she said, it scared her when she got to Waverly Place and saw Mr. Batali waiting for her alone with a limousine and a bottle of Prosecco. She said that at the Spotted Pig, the two were taken from the busy bar to a banquette with candles in the VIP room. "He had a wife. She said, "He was my boss." "It was nothing like I thought it would be."
She said that her wine glass kept getting refilled, and when she started to feel drunk, she tried to end the night by telling Mr. Batali that she had to be at Babbo at 10 a.m. the next morning. She said that Mr. Batali told her not to worry about work.
She said that the next time she woke up, she was alone and lying on a rough wooden floor with scratches on her legs and side and what looked like sperm on her skirt. She said it was early in the morning and she hadn't been awake for at least five hours. She says that she remembers Mr. Batali kissing her hard while he was holding her on his lap. She also says that she remembers throwing up in a toilet while he stood behind her.
She said that she thought she was in Mr. Batali's apartment, so she opened the door and saw that she had been at the restaurant the whole night. "Looking back, that was the scariest part," she said. She realized that, no matter what else had happened, he hadn't waited for her to get sober or made sure she was safe. (Later, The Times reported that several women, including employees of the restaurant, had been sexually harassed in that room. The attorney general found that the owner, Ken Friedman, did the same thing as Mr. Batali and fined him. In 2020, he closed the restaurant.
She went home and then went to work. As usual, when Mr. Batali called, she asked him what had happened the night before. He told her in a short way to put him through to the kitchen.
Later that day, she called a rape crisis hotline and met with a counselor at Mount Sinai Hospital. According to the hospital report, doctors gave her a rape kit, put her clothes in bags, and gave her oral contraceptives, AZT, and antibiotics. She said that a nurse told her that her legs looked like they had been pried open.
The report said, "Patient reports that she is unsure about filing a police report because her boss is a powerful person who can blacklist her from the industry." She says the police told her that they couldn't process or analyze her rape kit because she didn't file a report. (In New York State, hospitals don't tell the police about sexual assaults on adults unless the victim gives permission.)
Instead, Ms. DeVirgilis said, she gave Babbo and the restaurant business a month's notice and quit. She worked as a makeup artist, and her interactions with the women in her chair led to a one-woman show, work as an activist, and speaking engagements about empowering women.
But she didn't tell the police about the attack. "It's funny that it took me this long to tell my story even though I've been doing this work for 10 years," she said. "Yes, it's that hard."
Ms. DeVirgilis said she couldn't say if she has changed her mind about calling the police or not. The Police Department and the office of the Manhattan district attorney would not say if they had started looking into Ms. DeVirgilis's assault again.