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Christie Brinkley’s messy divorce trial goes nuclear

A court-appointed psychiatrist’s report yet to be introduced in the sensational Christie Brinkley-Peter Cook divorce trial will reveal that Brinkley is consumed by rage, Cook’s attorney said Thursday morning. But as lawyers for the two sides traded charges in exclusive TODAY interviews, the supermodel’s attorney said that the report also says that Brinkley should get primary custody of the c
/ Source: TODAY contributor

A court-appointed psychiatrist’s report yet to be introduced in the sensational Christie Brinkley-Peter Cook divorce trial will reveal that Brinkley is consumed by rage, Cook’s attorney said Thursday morning. But as lawyers for the two sides traded charges in exclusive TODAY interviews, the supermodel’s attorney said that the report also says that Brinkley should get primary custody of the couple’s two children.

The psychiatrist “has … found that Christie is angered and she’s going to have to overcome her anger,” Cook’s attorney, Norman Sheresky, told TODAY’s Meredith Vieira before heading to court for the second day of testimony in the salacious trial that began Wednesday.

Sheresky said that the psychiatrist also determined that testimony about Cook’s $3,000-a-month appetite for Internet porn should be “out of the case,” and that “Peter is a wonderful father. He should have a relationship with the children, and Christie Brinkley should not interfere with it.”

But in a separate interview that followed directly on TODAY, Brinkley’s attorney, Bob Cohen, said his adversary left out an important element in the report. “The court psychiatrist found that Christie should be the custodial parent,” he told Vieira. “But being the custodial parent doesn’t mean Peter doesn’t get to see the children. He’s going to get to see the children. He has seen the children. He will continue to see the children.”

Brinkley, 54, was to go on the stand on Thursday in the salacious trial that the 49-year-old Cook sought to keep private and Brinkley fought to make open to the public and the media. Sheresky said that Brinkley is driven by anger and that her determination to air the couple’s dirty laundry will ultimately harm their children.

‘She is absolutely furious’

“What has hurt these children is the fact that Christie Brinkley is mad after two years,” he told Vieira. “She is absolutely furious and she wants to get even. Unfortunately, she’s getting even by hurting the children.”

Sheresky said he will cross-examine her on three fronts: “A, what she said about him; B, what a great father he is; and certainly, C, all of the things she has done to harm his relationship with the children, who, by the way, still love him. She’s going to have to get to learn no matter what she does, no matter how vicious she gets, some day, these children, like all children, put this stuff together again.”

Cohen said that Sheresky can’t ignore Cook’s behavior. “He’s got a client who’s acted very, very badly here over a long period of time with a high-school senior some 30 years his junior,” he said. “I couldn’t imagine any less appropriate custodial parent than Peter Cook.”

That said, Cohen said Brinkley is not trying to keep Cook from seeing the children and continuing to act as a father. She is just seeking custody. “Christie Brinkley, by the way, wants Peter to see the children.”

It is Brinkley’s fourth marriage: her second since her stormy one to singer Billy Joel. She and Cook, an architect, had a prenuptial agreement, and the division of assets is not a major issue in their split. Instead, the couple is battling for custody of their two children, Jack, 13, and Sailor, 10. Jack’s biological father is Brinkley's third husband, Robert Taubman. Cook is Sailor’s father.

Sheresky says that Brinkley’s history of four marriages shows that she is the one with bad judgment.

Who gets the kids?

“If you look at her past marriages, you will find out that she believes that when her marriages fail, she gets to keep the children,” Sheresky told Vieira. “That’s not the law in this state. Peter made a mistake and had an affair. Many, many millions of people, men and women, have affairs. That doesn’t give you, as a trophy, children.”

He said that Brinkley has said for publication many times over the course of the marriage that Cook was a wonderful father to their children. Neither Cook’s affair with Diana Bianchi nor his taste for Internet porn should affect his rights to custody, Sheresky argued.

“He’s sorry. He said he shouldn’t have had the affair,” the lawyer said. “On the other hand, he had the most wonderful, and still does, relationship with his children. Why should that end? Because Christie Brinkley is angry?”

Sensational testimony about Cook opened their divorce trial Wednesday, giving the public a salacious peek into the former Sports Illustrated swimsuit model's fourth marriage.

Cook testified that he and Brinkley used pornography “to get the mood going.” Alexa Ray Joel, Brinkley's daughter with “Piano Man” Billy Joel, said Cook once angrily shoved her head into a bucket of water.

And Diana Bianchi, the young woman whose affair with Cook set off a tabloid frenzy and ended the couple's marriage, testified that he hid cash for her under a rock and gave her $15,000 to help her buy a Nissan Maxima in 2005.

“That is the man who's come before this court and asked for custody of his 13-year-old son and 10-year-old daughter,” said Brinkley's lawyer, Cohen.

‘A woman scorned’

Brinkley and Cook wed in 1996. She filed for divorce a decade later, after his affair with Bianchi exploded into public view.

“There is no way to make that right,” said Cook's lawyer, Sheresky. “Peter has apologized. He's cried his eyes out. He's lost his marriage.”

Brinkley fought a bid by the children's legal guardian to close the trial to the public, and Cook's lawyer said the model was partly to blame for an unseemly spectacle.

“For goodness sake: She's on her fourth husband,” Sheresky told the court. “Your honor, we're here because of the self-indulgent wrath of a woman scorned.”

“What kind of a mother wants her husband flogged in public?” he said.

Before long, he seduced her while they were working together in the office, she testified.

“He had shown interest in me, and I reciprocated. He asked me how I would feel if he told me he was attracted to me,” she said. “I wasn't taken aback, but I wasn't really against it.”

Tentative and halting during an hour of testimony, Bianchi said the two had sex about 10 times before their relationship ended in late 2005. Cook counted about 12 rendezvous — some at the office, some at Brinkley's homes in the Hamptons.

Tearing up as he testified, Cook said he showered Bianchi with spending money, including $500 secreted outdoors — he said near his office; she said it was outside his and Brinkley's home. He said he slipped more cash for Bianchi behind a painting.

The $300,000 payout came in May 2007. Cook said he was trying to protect himself and his family from scandal and was concerned that Bianchi might file a sexual harassment lawsuit. No lawsuit was ever filed.

Bianchi's stepfather, Brian Platt, testified that he told Brinkley about the affair moments after she spoke at the 2006 Southampton High School graduation.

“She was obviously shaken,” Platt said.

Happy on the outside

Brinkley and Cook presented a portrait of contentment on the Hamptons social circuit. But behind the scenes, they relied on porn as a precursor to intimacy during the last half of their marriage, Cook said. He acknowledged spending about $3,000 a month on pornographic Web sites in 2005. He said he has not accessed the sites since his breakup and maintained he never looked at them in the presence of his children.

Brinkley's lawyer called her a doting mother whose work schedule revolves around her children.

Cook's attorney also painted his client as a good parent, noting interviews in which Brinkley referred to him as “the best dad in the world.”

Alexa Ray Joel, 22, testified that Cook treated her well before he married her mother. But she said he was constantly on her case afterward, chastising her “if I chewed too loud” and criticizing her piano playing.

“He was just very critical of me in general,” said Joel, a singer, songwriter and pianist.

When her lengthy shower caused a leak in the kitchen below in 2003, Cook stormed into the bathroom and demanded she mop up immediately, Joel testified. When she got downstairs wearing only a towel, he pushed her head into a bucket and yelled, “You clean this up!” she said.

When Brinkley found out, “she was horrified,” her daughter said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.