NYPD probing sexual assault allegations against Mario Batali

NEW YORK — Police are investigating allegations of sexual misconduct leveled against celebrity chef Mario Batali.

The NYPD confirmed the probe following a "60 Minutes" broadcast Sunday night in which an unnamed woman accused Batali of drugging and sexually assaulting her in 2005.

She says she remembers joining him for a glass of wine at a Manhattan restaurant, then waking up on the floor feeling drugged and assaulted.

She says she talked to the police but never filed a report.

Batali issued a statement to PIX11 News denying that he assaulted the woman.

"I vehemently deny any allegations of sexual assault. My past behavior has been deeply inappropriate and I am sincerely remorseful for my actions," the statement read. "I am not attempting a professional comeback. My only focus is finding a personal path forward where I can continue in my charitable endeavors - helping the underprivileged and those in need."

Trish Nelson, a former waitress at the Spotted Pig in Greenwich Village, was part of that "60 Minutes" broadcast. She, too, has accused Batali of assault, calling him "a monster."

For years, Nelson said, she and other female members of the Spotted Pig staff were subjected to heinous treatment in which they were sexually assaulted, groped and violated.

She said the unwanted sexual advances came from Batali and from his friend Ken Friedman, who owns the Spotted Pig, with  much of the alleged inappropriate behavior taking place on the restaurant's infamous third floor, a place for celebrities and loose rules.

"They've ruined lives and they've hurt people and they've come out fairly unscathed," Nelson told PIX11 News.

She said she also blames chef April Bloomfield, whom Nelson believes knew exactly what was happening.

"I know she was aware because I was there and she chose money and power over humans," Nelson said.

In a statement to PIX11 News, The Spotted Pig said:

"The Spotted Pig is committed to providing a work environment free of any form of harassment and has ensured in recent years that all proper policies and procedures for handling employee relations matters are in place.

"Mario Batali has never held any management position at The Spotted Pig nor had any supervisory role involving staff or operations of the restaurant.

"After Ken Friedman was informed by employees of their being uncomfortable with Mario's behavior many years ago, Mario was told he could no longer hold parties at the restaurant. (This was confirmed by employees and others on the record, however CBS chose not to include this in the story)"

Batali stepped down from daily operations at his restaurant empire and cooking show "The Chew" in December after four women accused him of inappropriate touching over a period of 20 years.

Batali has apologized for those encounters.

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