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MasterChef star strikes deal to avoid sexual assault charges

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Sexual assault charges against ex-MasterChef contestant Ben Ungermann are set to be dropped, after a teenager alleged she “felt his skin on my skin” and “shrunk into a ball”.

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Ungermann, 37, was charged with three counts of sexually touching a 16-year-old girl in Melbourne without her consent on February 23, 2020.

Melbourne Magistrates Court was on Wednesday told those charges would be withdrawn and replaced with one count of common law assault.

The girl told police she cried after the alleged incident and asked her boyfriend to call her immediately.

“I felt his skin on my skin and I shrunk into a ball,” the girl said in an interview played to court.

“I was in shock at that point. I started crying and texted (her partner), saying ‘call me right now’.”

Ungermann’s barrister Abbie Roodenburg said she would apply to have the 37-year-old placed on a diversion for the common law assault charge. This would allow him to avoid a conviction.

Roodenburg earlier sought a permanent stay of proceedings, which would have halted the case against Ungermann.

The lawyer argued the girl had been “coached” by police while giving evidence.

Magistrate Mia Stylianou said the claims about coaching were “far from ideal”, but refused to throw out Ungermann’s case altogether.

Ungermann was runner-up in the 2017 season of the Network 10 cooking show. He also returned for last year’s series.

He is due to reappear in court on Friday for the diversion application.

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