A woman who anonymously accused former chef Mario Batali of sexual misconduct has made her first public appearance in an upcoming Discovery+ documentary.
In Batali: The fall of a superstar chef, Premiering Thursday on the streaming platform, a former employee of one of Batali’s restaurants, Eva DeVirgilis, accuses Batali of sexually assaulting her in 2005 after taking her to a company he invested in, The Spotted Pig. According to the documentary, DeVirgilis — a former hostess at West Village restaurant Babbo — previously anonymously told Anderson Cooper part of her story on 60 minutes but has never told the story on record before.
The New York Timeswho wrote a story on DeVirgilis’ allegations on Wednesday, reported that DeVirgilis was one of more than 20 former employees of the restaurants of Batali and colleague Joe Bastianich who received a $600,000 settlement in 2021 for sexual harassment claims in New York.
News Kidda has contacted Batali’s lawyers for comment.
In the documentary, headed by Singeli Agnew (who previously had episodes of the weekly magazine), DeVirgilis claims that one evening in June 2005, she accepted Batali’s invitation to go to the famous hotspot The Spotted Pig after work. She says Batali picked her up in a limousine after her shift ended, and when she arrived at the restaurant, they sat at a candlelit table for two and “the wine kept flowing.” DeVirgilis recalls, “I thought, ‘Okay, well, I’m getting really tipsy, I’m feeling tipsy, I have to go home, I have to open the restaurant in the morning.’ He said, ‘Fuck the restaurant, fuck work, I’m the boss,’ and everyone said, ‘Yay!’”
According to DeVirgilis, she blacked out not long after. “And then I have a flash where I get kissed by him, really hard, and then I have another flash where I have to throw up in a toilet, I feel him standing behind me and then there was nothing,” says She remembers waking up on a hardwood floor wondering if she had been drugged because “I’m not the type of person to throw up. I don’t black out.” She adds: “I went to the bathroom and saw that 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 shocked.”
DeVirgilis says she went to Mount Sinai Hospital in New York, where she had a rape kit examined. She says she asked if she could take a drug test, but was told that since the incident happened the previous night, all possible drugs would likely have already passed through her system. In the end, she says she decided not to file a report with the police. “I was afraid of him, I was afraid of never working in this city, I didn’t want to press charges,” she says. (Jane Manning, the director of the Women’s Equal Justice Project and former prosecutor for sex crimes, notes in the documentary that no rape kits were being processed in New York City at this time unless a police investigation into the incident had been opened.)
Later, DeVirgilis adds, “I wish I had [filed a report], but I wasn’t ready and I didn’t have the means and I was just… I wasn’t, it’s too scary. It’s still scary. It’s scary now.”
The New York Timeswho interviewed DeVirgilis for his story says she won’t say if she has since gone to police about the incident.
Batali was found not guilty of sexual assault at a trial in Boston in May and settled two lawsuits in August, including one with claims going to trial. The 2021 New York settlement, meanwhile, came after an investigation by Attorney General Letitia James’s office found that “B&B [management company B&B Hospitality], Batali and Bastianich were involved in unlawful gender discrimination and retaliation, in violation of state and city human rights laws,” James’ office said at the time. In 2019, New York Police Department closed two investigations into sexual misconduct allegations against Batali, with an official telling CNN they could find no probable cause in the cases and one of them was out of statute of limitations.
Batali was first charged with sexual misconduct in a December 2017 story in Eater. He then offered an apology stating, “My behavior was wrong and there are no excuses.” Batali added, “I take full responsibility,” adding a link for pizza dough cinnamon buns at the end of the note.