A MasterChef star who is accused of sexually assaulting a teenager is being represented by a fellow former contestant.
Ben Ungermann is charged with three counts of sexual assault in relation to a 16-year-old girl in Melbourne on February 23 last year.
The 36-year-old allegedly touched “the right breast skin” of the alleged victim without her consent, according to charge sheets released by the court.
He denies the allegations.
Mr Ungermann was the runner-up in the 2017 series of MasterChef, and lost to Diana Chan.
Mr Ungermann did not appear in the Melbourne Magistrates Court for the administrative hearing on Wednesday.
However he was represented by Ben Bullock, a Western Australian lawyer and a fellow contestant who also appeared in the show’s 2017 season.
It was revealed in the hearing the alleged victim made a statement to police about Ungermann more than a year before he allegedly assaulted her in Melbourne.
However no charges were laid in relation to the earlier statement but prosecutors want to use it as “tendency evidence” against the chef.
The magistrate said it was a “substantial” development which could impact the case.
Mr Bullock objected to the use of material and he told the court the defence team wanted to get access to high school records in relation to the alleged victim.
“There are still some things in there that both parties need to see,” he said via videolink.
Mr Bullock also told the court there may be an “international witness” from South Africa who could be called to give evidence via videolink.
Up to four child witnesses are expected to give evidence and magistrate Mia Stylianou urged both prosecutors and defence to get organised ahead of the contested hearing.
The matter could turn into a “three-ring circus” and she didn’t conduct the court in that way, she said.
The magistrate ordered a ground rules hearing to take place next month to establish the content of the questions two of the child witnesses will be asked.
This includes the complainant, the court was told.
An intermediary has also been appointed to assist the teenage girl during the proceedings.
They are specialists who help child witnesses give complete, coherent and accurate evidence in the court environment.
Mr Ungermann was due to reappear in the “Back to Win” series of the popular cooking reality series last year — but he was dropped from the show after police filed sexual assault charges.
The former contestant was known as the “Ice-Cream King” on the show opened a gourmet ice cream business run out of Ipswich in Queensland. He is no longer listed on the website of the business.
The case will return to court next month and a contested hearing is expected on May 17 and to run for seven days.