A judge on Tuesday found celebrity chef Mario Batali not guilty of on sexual misconduct charges, but still chastised him about the 2017 incident at a Boston restaurant that led to charges.
Batali was acquitted of alleged indecent assault and battery, according to a finding by Boston Municipal Court Judge James Stanton.
The judge said there were “credibility” issues with the complaining witness that led to reasonable doubt.
Despite the acquittal, Judge Staton still had harsh words for the defendant.
“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 demeanor were not befitting of a public person of his stature at that time,” Stanton said.
Had Batali been convicted of indecent assault and battery, he could have faced up to 2 1/2 years behind bars and be required to register as a sex offender.
Batali left the courthouse on Tuesday without speaking to reporters.
The celebrity chef offered an apology in 2017, acknowledging the allegations “match up” with ways he has acted.
“I have made many mistakes and I am so very sorry that I have disappointed my friends, my family, my fans and my team,” he said in an email newsletter at the time. “My behavior was wrong and there are no excuses. I take full responsibility.”
Suffolk County DA Kevin Hayden said Tuesday he had no regrets pressing a case that didn’t yield a conviction.
“While we’re disappointed in the judge’s verdict, my office will not waiver in our support for the victim in this case,” Hayden said in a statement.
“I’m grateful that the victim in this case made the decision to come forward, and to every survivor of sexual assault who makes that difficult decision.”
David K. Li is a breaking news reporter for NBC News.
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