“Yes I loved him and he felt like family,” Bethenny Frankel said of Dennis Shields

By Maggie Parker and Natalie Stone
March 26, 2019 09:46 PM
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When Bethenny Frankel‘s late boyfriend Dennis Shields popped the question last year, she kept news of the proposal a secret from the world — including her ex Jason Hoppy.

During her testimony in a New York City court on Tuesday, Frankel, 48, answered questions from Hoppy’s attorney Robert Wallack as the former couple’s custody case of 8-year-old daughter Bryn continued.

Frankel answered numerous questions from Wallack about her present and past romances, including Shields, who died last summer at age 51 of a suspected overdose.

Celebrity Sightings in New York City - June 14, 2016
Credit: Alessio Botticelli/GC

The Skinnygirl mogul told the court that her “sexual and romantic relationship” with Shields began three to four years ago.

She said that on April 24, 2018, Shields proposed — with a mega-carat rock — and confirmed that he gave Bryn a silver ring with a heart.

“When he gave me a ring he asked me to marry him,” she told the court.

“The answer I gave him was, ‘It’s amazing that you did this and it’s beautiful and it’s romantic, but we have to work out some issues before we can make this kind of commitment,’ ” shared Frankel, who said she didn’t give him a “yes, no answer.”

While Frankel said she “sort of” considered herself to be engaged to Shields, she admitted that she didn’t tell Hoppy, 48, that Shields proposed.

“Yes I loved him and he felt like family,” Frankel said of Shields, who was found dead in his Trump Tower apartment on Aug. 10. (After his death, the New York City Medical Examiner’s Office announced that an autopsy was not performed on his body due to a “religious objection.” Thus, his cause of death has been ruled “undetermined.” Frankel declined to comment via a rep following his death.).

Although Frankel and Shields discussed engagement, she told Wallack that she and her late boyfriend didn’t spend a lot of time together because he had five children, businesses, charity organizations and he was “stretched thin.”

She also clarified that Bryn, who spent time with Shields and his children before his death, spent “less time than I did” with Shields.

Frankel’s current relationship with real estate developer and film producer Paul Bernon, who supported her in court on Tuesday, was also addressed.

Similar to Shields, Frankel told Wallack that she didn’t tell Hoppy about Bernon, who she confirmed she started dating “a year and a half ago” in December 2017 — months before Shields’ proposal, at a time when she was broken up with Shields.

The businesswoman said that she stopped dating Bernon “maybe a month later … because I wasn’t ready for that.”

But “maybe a month after” Shields died, Frankel said that she and Bernon started dating again in September 2018.

Bernon and Frankel made their relationship Instagram-official in December when Frankel shared two photos of the couple celebrating Christmas together in the Dominican Republic. The pair went on to ring in the New Year together in Mexico, joined by Bryn and his two kids.

Although Frankel has found happiness with Bernon, it comes amid a trying time for the Bravo personality, whose been fighting with Hoppy over custody of Bryn for years.

After a whirlwind romance, the RHONY star learned she was pregnant, and they got married in a lavish televised wedding in 2010, welcoming their baby girl shortly after.

Then, things turned ugly. They separated in December 2012, and their protracted divorce was finalized in July 2016, though they’ve been stuck in messy court proceedings; she accused him of stalking and harassing her in 2017. Hoppy agreed to a plea deal in the case.

During a court hearing in New York City on Monday, Frankel was in tears as as she accused Hoppy of previously taunting and harassing her during FaceTime calls she made to their daughter.

BETHENNY FRANKEL AND JASON HOPPY CUDDLING AT THE LAKERS GAME
Credit: Philip Ramey/Corbis/Getty

She was questioned by one of her attorneys, Ronnie Schindel, who presented a video of a past FaceTime call with Hoppy that the reality star recorded nearly four years ago.

On the May 9, 2015 call, Frankel asked to speak with Bryn, who was with Hoppy at the time, before he hung up the phone on the Bravo personality.

“I have a video I recorded. I was trying to FaceTime Bryn. And I experienced every day and every time I tried to do that, Jason using it as a tool to taunt and harass me. That day I recorded our correspondence — that weekend was Mother’s Day weekend, Bryn’s birthday and birthday party and celebration,” a visibly emotional Frankel said about the video.

“He sent me a series of abusive emails that day. He called me a wise ass, he mocked me, he said I needed to seek help and told me if I couldn’t control my behavior I shouldn’t come to her birthday party. Making me feel not welcome,” alleged Frankel, who went to the party later that day. “It was Jason’s party for her and Jason’s parents and friends surrounded her so I just stood back. … I’m the outsider.”

Her legal counsel then played the footage for the court. In the video, Frankel asked to “talk to Bryn for a minute,” and Hoppy said, “Keep recording me. Keep recording me. Okay, you lost your privilege for recording me,” before he hung up the call.

After the recording played, Frankel claimed that she would experience things like this “two times a day every day” until the order of protection was placed on Hoppy. “Jason would use FaceTimes to taunt me, laugh at me … harass me … torture and taunting every day.”

An attorney for Hoppy, who testified earlier this month, had no comment.

The Real Housewives of New York City airs Wednesdays (9 p.m. ET) on Bravo.