Mario Batali Takes Leave of Absence Amid Sexual Misconduct Accusations

The celebrity chef will step away from his daytime talk show hosting duties as well as his businesses.

Celebrity chef Mario Batali will reportedly step away from the helm of his business operations as well as the daytime television spotlight in the wake of sexual misconduct allegations.

Four women allege Batali "touched them inappropriately in a pattern of behavior that appears to span at least two decades," according to a report in the food website Eater.

Batali told the site he will be taking a break from day-to-day operations of his businesses for an unspecified period of time. 

ABC has also reportedly also asked the chef to step away from The Chew, the food-inspired talk show he co-hosts, "while we review the allegations that have just recently come to our attention," a spokesperson said.

Three of the women worked for Batali at some point in their careers. One of those women alleges the chef grabbed her from behind and held her against his body repeatedly for years. Another alleges he groped her and once compelled her to straddle him. The third says Batali grabbed her breasts at a party.

The fourth woman also alleges Batali groped her at a party, though she never worked for him.

In a statement, Batali did not deny the allegations. Instead, he says they "match up" with his conduct.

The statement read:

“I apologize to the people I have mistreated and hurt. Although the identities of most of the individuals mentioned in these stories have not been revealed to me, much of the behavior described does, in fact, match up with ways I have acted. That behavior was wrong and there are no excuses. I take full responsibility and am deeply sorry for any pain, humiliation or discomfort I have caused to my peers, employees, customers, friends and family.

“I have work to do to try to regain the trust of those I have hurt and disappointed. For this reason, I am going to step away from day-to-day operations of my businesses. We built these restaurants so that our guests could have fun and indulge, but I took that too far in my own behavior. I won’t make that mistake again. I want any place I am associated with to feel comfortable and safe for the people who work or dine there.

"I know my actions have disappointed many people. The successes I have enjoyed are owned by everyone on my team. The failures are mine alone. To the people who have been at my side during this time — my family, my partners, my employees, my friends, my fans — I am grateful for your support and hopeful that I can regain your respect and trust. I will spend the next period of time trying to do that."