Recent news-media attention to allegations of sexual assault against prominent men like Bill Cosby and Harvey Weinstein has galvanized a movement that has shifted cultural attitudes about rape and encouraged more victims to come forward about attacks that occurred years earlier. Last year in New York City, more than one in five of the 1,795 reports of rapes to the police were from previous years. Of those, 129 were said to have occurred more than five years ago, according to police data.
The police official said that prosecuting such cases relies heavily on the memory of victims and people they told about the incident. In the latest case, the cold-case detectives went to Texas to interview a woman who was at the Spotted Pig bar and whom the victim said she had told about the attack. But the witness was unable to provide them with enough to move the case forward, the official said.
The office of the Manhattan district attorney, which would have been responsible for prosecuting Mr. Batali, declined to comment on the cases.
All three women spoke to the police in the aftermath of articles in The New York Times and other media outlets, in which multiple women described a pattern of unwanted touching and sexual advances by Mr. Batali.
In the first incident, in 2004, a woman said she had been drinking at the bar at Babbo, a popular Greenwich Village restaurant then owned in part by Mr. Batali. She remembered going upstairs to use the bathroom, then nothing until she regained consciousness while Mr. Batali, she said, was raping her.
The second incident, in which a woman also reported being sexually assaulted while unconscious, was said to have taken place in 2005 at the Spotted Pig, where Mr. Batali was a partner with the restaurateur Ken Friedman and the chef April Bloomfield. Mr. Batali was a frequent (and frequently intoxicated) visitor at the restaurant, where the staff had nicknamed him “the Red Menace,” a reference to his long red hair.
In August, in a separate case, a Massachusetts woman filed a lawsuit against him, saying that he groped her at a Boston bar in April 2017, inflicting emotional distress.