CIA Graduate Facing 25 Sexual Harassment Accusations
One of the most famous graduates of the Culinary Institute of America has been forced to step down from his own successful restaurant group.
Chef John Besh is probably best known for his appearances on Top Chef, Iron Chef and countless late night talk shows. But now the New Orleans based restaurant owner is making headlines for accusations of sexual harassment. A James Beard Award winner, Besh graduated from the Culinary Institute of America in 1992 and has made several trips back to campus over the years.
Until this week, the chef's alumni profile was proudly displayed on the CIA's website. But now, it appears that the page has been deleted. A cashed version of the website from October 17 shows a smiling picture of Besh and details his extensive resume that includes a long list of awards and achievements.
It's no wonder why Besh's former alma mater would want to distance themselves from the celebrity chef. In an eight-month investigation by the Times Picayune 25 current and former employees of Besh's 12 New Orleans restaurants have come forward to claim the restaurant owner engaged in sexual harassment.
Allegations against Besh and his company include forced touching, unwanted sexual advances, suggestive comments about female employees and even cases of leveraging job advancements for sex.
Besh has stepped down from his restaurant group and provided the Times Picayune with the following statement:
Two years ago, I deeply hurt those I love by thoughtlessly engaging in a consensual relationship with one member of my team. Since then I have been seeking to rebuild my marriage and come to terms with my reckless actions given the profound love I have for my wife, my boys and my Catholic faith. I also regret any harm this may have caused to my second family at the restaurant group, and sincerely apologize to anyone past and present who has worked for me who found my behavior as unacceptable as I do...
We have learned recently that a number of women in our company feel that we have not had a clear mechanism in place to allow them to voice concerns about receiving the respect they deserve on the job. I want to assure all of our employees that if even a single person feels this way, it is one person too many and that ends now.
This controversy comes just weeks after Harvey Weinstein was exposed for years of sexual harassment in Hollywood. Like Besh, Weinstein's roots also trace back to the Hudson Valley. The Hollywood producer started his career promoting rock concerts at the Mid Hudson Civic Center.
Bill O'Reilly, who also faced serious allegations of sexual harassment, is an alumnus of Marist College in Poughkeepsie. O'Reilly is still featured throughout Marist's website.