Celebrity Chef Mario Batali was found not guilty of indecent assault and battery in Boston Municipal Court after waiving his right to a jury trial. Batali previously faced a number of allegations of sexual misconduct and even an investigation by the New York Attorney General into sexual harassment at his restaurant(s). Batali has gone as far as to apologize and say the accusations line up with his behavior. Despite all this, Batali was not convicted by a judge of the most recent charges of indecent assault and battery. With his history of accusations of sexual assault and sexual harassment, how was Mario Batali acquitted?
What Is Indecent Assault and Battery?
In Massachusetts, indecent assault and battery is a specific crime that is perpetrated on victims over 14 years of age. Indecent assault and battery is sexual touching without consent. Unwanted sexual touching of body parts that are private such as breasts, buttocks and genitals can be considered indecent assault. An unwanted tongue kiss can also be considered indecent assault.
The woman who accused Batali of sexual assault said she had asked for a selfie with the celebrity chef, who she spotted at a restaurant in Boston. She said he was visibly drunk and aggressively kissed her, touched her face, groped her, grabbed her by her private parts and stuck his tongue in her ear.
Many of these unwanted acts could be considered indecent assault and battery. At a criminal trial however, it has to be proved beyond reasonable doubt that these acts have taken place. At Mario Batali’s trial, there were pictures to show the chef visibly drunk with the accuser. However the defense pointed out that there was no evidence in the picture to show he assaulted her and there was space between them in the pictures.
The accuser’s apparent lack of credibility was another factor in the Judge’s ruling. The defense pointed out that the accuser had lied on another occasion for financial gain and was also pursuing a civil suit against the Chef for $50,000 damages. Evidence of Batali’s accuser saying she was a “Clairvoyant” to get out of Jury Duty was also used to attack her credibility.
The Consequences of Indecent Assault and Battery
In a criminal trial, it has to be proved beyond reasonable doubt that someone has committed a crime. Indecent assault and battery is a serious charge that carries life changing consequences. The penalties for indecent assault and battery in Massachusetts are up to 5 years in state prison, or 2 and a half years in a house of correction. If you are convicted you will also have to register as a sex offender. One of the most serious consequences of being convicted of any kind of sexual assault is being branded as a sex offender. This is a permanent blot on a person’s record that can ruin a person’s career and livelihood, as well as impacting their relationships.
Like Mario Batali, many people accused of sexual misconduct or assault are facing both a civil and a criminal trial. The standard of evidence in a criminal trial is much more rigorous (beyond reasonable doubt) than a civil trial (preponderance of evidence). The consequences of a criminal conviction are such that the burden of a criminal trial requires the prosecution to prove that the incident almost certainly happened. Some people choose to waive their right to a jury, especially where their conduct (such as Mario Batali’s drunkenness) might not cause them to be likable to a jury.
If you are accused of a serious crime like indecent assault and battery you should immediately consult an experienced criminal law attorney to discuss your case. At Dhar Law, LLP, we believe in the right to a fair trial and have defended countless serious criminal cases. Please don’t hesitate to contact us at (617) 880-6155 if you are facing a serious criminal charge.