March 6, 2019 / 5:13 PM / 7 months ago

U.S. chef Mario Batali cuts ties with restaurants after abuse accusation

March 6 (Reuters) - Celebrity chef Mario Batali on Wednesday said he had cut ties with his U.S. restaurants as he fights an investigation into accusations of sexual harassment.

Batali has sold his shares in the 16-restaurant operation, including Babbo and Del Posto, to former partners Tanya Bastianich Manuali and her brother, Joe Bastianich, he said.

“I have reached an agreement with Joe and no longer have any stake in the restaurants we built together. I wish him the best of luck in the future,” Batali said in a statement.

The New York Police Department last year opened a criminal investigation into an accusation that Batali drugged and sexually assaulted an employee in 2005, following a “60 Minutes” report on the allegations. Batali at the time denied the report, and the NYPD closed its investigation without charges, according to local news media.

Representatives of the Bastianich family did not immediately respond to requests for comment. (Reporting by Scott Malone in Boston and Gina Cherelus in New York; editing by Jonathan Oatis)

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