Ken Friedman, owner of Spotted Pig, a restaurant frequented by celebs like Taylor Swift, has stepped down after being accused of sexual harassment. We have the details here.
Two dozen women who spoke to The New York Times allege that Spotted Pig owner Ken Friedman sexually harassed them during their time working at the celebrated New York City restaurant or at Friedman’s other properties. At Spotted Pig, a trendy hotspot beloved by Taylor Swift and Calvin Harris, Kanye West, and JAY-Z, 10 women said that Friedman, 56, allegedly subjected them to unwanted sexual advances, including: allegedly groping them in front of customers, allegedly demanding sex, group sex, or nude photos via text, and catcalling. The third-floor space of the restaurant was nicknamed “the rape room” among employees and “industry insiders,” according to NYT. Friedman has apologized in a statement and said that he would be taking an “indefinite leave of absence” from the management of his restaurants, effective immediately.
Friedman released a statement to the NYT regarding the allegations: “My personal and professional life was intertwined with our restaurants and our staff. I own my behavior which can accurately be described at times as abrasive, rude and frankly wrong. The women who work at our restaurants are among the best in the business, and putting any of them in humiliating situations is unjustifiable. Some incidents were not as described, but context and content are not today’s discussion. I apologize now publicly for my actions.”
Other women who worked for Friedman told NYT that he allegedly forced them to kiss him “daily,” and touched them; they also pulled all-nighters at private party that allegedly included public sex and nudity. Friedman’s friends also allegedly groped and catcalled them. “We are not people who can live in cubicles,” said Carla Rza Betts, 39, who was wine director at the Spotted Pig, and the Breslin and the John Dory, two of Friedman’s other restaurants, from 2009 until 2013. She said she left because of the alleged harassment. “There is a grab-ass, super-fun late-night culture — I love that part of the industry. But there is a difference between fun and sexualized camaraderie and predation. When you are made to feel unsafe or dirty or embarrassed, that is a different thing.”
“We had to brace ourselves every time Ken arrived,” said Natalie Saibel, 40, a former server who was allegedly groped by Friedman in the Spotted Pig dining room (two other employees corroborated her claims). ““When he wasn’t coming on to us, he was screaming at us.” Some of the women said they feared Friedman because of his alleged temper. All of the women interviewed told NYT that Friedman allegedly had consensual sexual relationships with employees, allegedly openly hired people based on their appearance, and was allegedly intoxicated at work. These are just some of the many accounts told to NYT about Friedman.
Two of Spotted Pig’s backers are JAY-Z and celebrity chef Mario Batali, who himself was just accused of sexual harassment. Employees at the Spotted Pig said that they either allegedly experienced or witnessed sexual misconduct by Batali at the restaurant.
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