Adding to the scandal surrounding disgraced MasterChef contestant Ben Ungermann are reports that he is engaged to South African radio host and TV presenter, Leigh-Anne Williams.
Earlier this month, Woman's Day wrote that the couple were engaged, according to family and friends. The publication said that they've been secretly dating for 14 months. They met up on New Year's Eve at Pulo Cinta resort in Indonesia, before Leigh-Anne was spotted in February wearing a diamond engagement ring when the couple were in Melbourne together.
The couple met in 2017, the year Ben came second on MasterChef, when he travelled to Cape Town in South Africa to give cooking demonstrations. She apparently called him "very easy on the eyes" on her Good Hope FM radio show.
They appear to have become a couple in March 2019, with Leigh-Anne sharing on March 19 this year a picture of Ben holding her hand, captioned "1 year. ❤️". Ben shared a corresponding post holding Leigh-Anne's hand, captioned simply "❤️ forever."
Earlier this month, Leigh-Anne also shared a happy birthday to Ben on Instagram, describing him as "one of the kindest, most beautiful and caring human beings I know".
Leigh-Anne's Instagram has since been set to private.
— Leigh-Anne Williams (@LeighAnne_Will) November 11, 2019
Ben was removed from MasterChef in March after he was charged with two counts of sexual assault on March 6. Daily Mail wrote that the arrest related to an alleged incident on Feb 23, when Ben was in Melbourne shooting the series. A police spokesperson told The Age that the victim was a 16-year-old girl. He is listed to appear at Melbourne Magistrate's Court in late June.
A statement from Victoria Police confirmed that Ben had been arrested: "The arrest follows an investigation into an alleged sexual assault in Docklands on 23 February. A 33-year-old Queensland man has been charged with two counts sexual assault."
On Twitter, lawyer Adam Houda denied the allegations on Ben's behalf: "I act for Ben Ungermann. Allegations against my client are vehemently denied and will be defended." The two-line tweet has since been shared to Ben's Instagram Stories.
His departure from MasterChef was announced with a brief statement at the beginning of Sunday night's Elimination episode. "You're probably wondering where Ben is," judge Jock Zonfrillo said. "Due to a personal matter, Ben has had to leave the competition, and he will not be returning."
When the issue was first reported in March, production company Endemol Shine declared the issue "of a personal nature": "We can confirm Ben Ungermann has left the MasterChef Australia competition. As this is a police matter, we will not be making further comment."
Since his departure from MasterChef, Ben has signed on as Head Chef at Queensland luxury retreat, Woodlands of Marburg.
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