Brinkley Forgives Husband's Ex-Mistress

Supermodel says Diana Bianchi was "manipulated."

ByABC News
January 8, 2009, 12:11 AM

CENTRAL ISLIP, N.Y., July 3, 2008— -- In a stunning climax to a dramatic day of testimony in her high-stakes bitter divorce trial, Christie Brinkley forgave her husband's teenage girlfriend.

"I can't help but think of Diana Bianchi," Brinkley told reporters as she left the courtroom. "I want her and her family to know that I feel for her. I forgive her -- she was manipulated."

Brinkley's words of forgiveness capped a day full of emotional testimony from the supermodel as she described how devastating it was to find out that her architect husband, Peter Cook, had carried on an affair with an 18-year-old girl and spent thousands of dollars a month on Internet porn.

Both sides finished calling witnesses and finished the divorce phase of the trial, with Cook's lawyers agreeing to divorce on the grounds of adultery and cruel and inhuman punishment without admitting to all the claims made by Brinkley. On Monday, the two sides begin the next phases -- custody and assets -- of the trial.

In dramatic court testimony this morning, Christie Brinkley took the stand in her divorce trial and reprised the confrontation with her cheating husband the day she found out about his affair with an 18-year-old girl.

The supermodel, in a blue sweater over a light-blue shirt and perfectly coiffed blond hair, turned and faced Peter Cook, in tears, and clenched her fists as she recounted asking him, "How could you? How could you?"

She held her hands out toward him before a hushed crowd at her divorce trial as she recounted the shock of being told about the affair by the teenager's police officer stepfather after she gave a commencement speech in Southampton, N.Y., on June 25, 2006.

"And I looked at Peter. And he was just whispering, 'No, no,'" she sobbed. "I knew from his face that the feelings I'd been trying not to feel were true. I felt my knees were going to buckle."

When they got home, Brinkley demanded the car keys from Cook so she could drive to the police station to question the teenager's stepfather, she recounted. When Cook refused to turn over the keys, she recalled grabbing the pocket of his shirt, one of his favorite pieces of clothing, and said, "I'll tear your shirt if you won't let me do this. And he got out."

Holding her hands to the side of her head, Brinkley sobbed as she recalled driving away in tears. "I started driving away from my perfect life. I thought I had the picket fence," she said.

She was so upset that she pulled over to the side of the road, got out of the car and started sobbing on her hands and knees.

"The car door was open, but Christie was lying on the ground, huddled over, her hands on her knees, sobbing but almost catatonic," testified her friend Jill Rappaport, who came to take care of her for several days.

"I can't believe this is happening to me," Brinkley told Rappaport, who recounted that Brinkley's knees were bloodied by the groveling.

Brinkley claimed that when she got home, the master bedroom was a mess and that money had been taken from the safe by Cook, who she said left behind only some jewelry and the couple's passports.

In a shocked voice, Brinkley recounted demanding Cook's computer passwords and usernames, and her subsequent search revealed Cook's admitted fascination with the deepest, most depraved parts of the Internet.

Reading her husband's e-mails to girlfriend Diana Bianchi, and to see his naked photos, was crushing, Brinkley told the court. "To come across that was beyond devastating. It was beyond humiliating. It was beyond your wildest nightmare one could ever imagine," she said. " He's cheating on me with a teenager. He's trolling the Internet."

Brinkley described her shattered reaction, while sobbing uncontrollably.

"I felt like the man who I was living with, I just didn't know who he was ... anymore. Who is he? Who is this man who comes down and sits at the dining room table and acts like he's been at work?"

She later claimed that Cook had tried to commit suicide and that she talked him out of it as he drove erratically along the north shore of Long Island.

"I'm going to plow my car right into a tree. I'm going to kill myself. I'm too embarrassed. ... I have nowhere to live. I have no friends," she recounted him telling her. "And I said, 'You can go to your parents parents will always love you unconditionally,'"she said.

Brinkley also described how the affair affected her career, forcing her to postpone cover shoots for Cover Girl cosmetics and to cancel the Chicago launch of the couple's "family-friendly furntiure line."

In the year before the fateful day of revelation, there were plenty of hints that something was wrong, that the beautiful supermodel didn't seem attractive any longer to her husband of 10 years.

Most dramatically, Brinkley recounted visiting in the spring of 2006 one of her empty properties that had been used by Cook and Bianchi for sex and finding wine and cheese in the fridge, blown-out candles on a table and "a bed. The windows were blacked out, the sheets were rumpled and there was a long black hair in the bed."

When she asked Cook, he blamed it on the gardener, saying that "John" was having relationship problems.

Brinkley also described noticing a change in Cook's attitude, that he got grouchy with her and didn't visit her when she was in the hospital after she got an infection when her tooth broke in 2005.

Most tellingly, she noticed that their romantic life was suffering, breaking down in tears at the memory. "We used to sleep like spoons together. And I'd ask him, 'Why don't you snuggle with me like that anymore?'"

She claimed that he stopped taking her out on date nights. "I would try to look nice and make a special effort and he'd say he's tired and that he'd put in a big day at the office.

Cook would get upset when she asked him if everything was OK, according to Brinkley. She recounted telling him, "I feel that somehow something's wrong and he'd say, "That's so unflattering. I can't stand it when you talk like that."

On his way out of court during a break for lunch, Cook dismissed his wife's testimony, quipping, "Shreck was more believable."

And his lawyers attacked Brinkley on cross-examination, accusing her of being blind with anger, adding that a court-ordered psychiatrist had found that Brinkley "couldn't see straight because you were so angry at Peter."

She responded by trying to justify her feelings. "I supported this man for almost 10 years. He never paid for a single thing. He lived a wonderful life. All the while, he was carrying on like this behind my back. It goes without saying that there would be a certain amount of anger."

She added, "You don't have time when you're a mother of three to sit around and lick your wounds and feel sorry for yourself."

Sherensky continued to focus on that theme, claiming that she once interrupted a phone call between Cook and sonJack to yell at Cook, "Tell him about your whores!"

When he later asked Brinkley if she was an actress, implying that she was overdramatizing her testimony, the supermodel replied, "I think that would be stretching it. ... I'm no Meryl Streep" and jokingly mentioned her appearance in the '80s comedy "National Lampoon's National Vacation."

The defense presented only one witness -- Cook, who denied most of the charges made by Brinkley. He claimed that he'd spent days at Brinkley's bedside when she was hospitalized and that Brinkley once told him to keep her good friend Jill Rappaport out of the room, saying, "You have to keep her out of here. I didn't get any sleep last night."

He also refuted charges made by Brinkley's daughter, Alexa Ray Joel, that he was cruel to her, denying that he shoved her head into a bucket and forced her to clean up a water leak.

Cook turned the tables, accusing Brinkley of being critical of her then-teenage daughter and slamming Joel as a spoiled brat who never once used a music studio built for her in a guesthouse on the couple's property.

He said Brinkley continuously criticized her daughter's habits at the dinner table, such as eating with her mouth open and "whipping food out of her mouth and cleaning her teeth," comparing her unfavorably to her father, Billy Joel, according to Cook. "She said, 'You're just like your father."

Today's riveting testimony came on the second day of the trial being held in a Long Island, N.Y., courthouse.

If there were any secrets left to discover about the fairy-tale marriage and nightmare divorce of Brinkley and Cook, it's hard to imagine they could be any more titillating or embarrassing than the tidbits unveiled in the courtroom during the first two days.

Both sides the spurned supermodel and the admitted adulterer husband came armed for battle at this drab courtroom, determined to fire off the most damaging charges and allegations about their behavior behind closed doors.

An all-star lineup of witnesses, from Cook himself, his alleged teenage mistress and from Brinkley's daughter with Billy Joel, they all unloaded a torrent of torrid tales that included: Cook's tearful admission on the stand Wednesday that he enjoyed oral sex with his 18-year-old girlfriend whose silence he allegedly bought with a $300,000 confidentiality agreement; and his admission that he had a fondness for masturbating via a Webcam for an Internet audience.

Alexa Ray Joel, Brinkley's daughter from her marriage to Bill Joel, testified Wednesday that Cook once pulled her out of the shower and shoved her head into a bucket. There were charges that Brinkley ransacked Cook's office and copied his hard drive; that she scratched his face out of family photographs in front of the children; and allegations that the supermodel spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on private detectives to dig up dirt on Cook.

Brinkley lawyers plan to call 44 witnesses, including another of Cook's purported girlfriends, in her battle to get full custody of their two children. And Cook's team plans to call 20 of his own witnesses in his attempt to share custody of Jack, his stepson, and Sailor, his daughter with Brinkley.

To ramp up the pressure on Cook, Brinkley took the unusual step of pushing to open the divorce trial to the public where all of the couple's dirty laundry can be aired.

Cook's lawyer, Norman Sheresky, could not hide his scorn, telling the court Wednesday, "It's as good as having the children in the front row to listen to all of this ... That's not good parenting."

Brinkley's lawyer, Robert Stephan Cohen, portrayed his client as a hard-working full-time mom, whose "knight in shining armor" turned into a debauched devil by cheating on her with a teenager and spending up to $3,000 a month on Internet porn.

He cited Brinkley's National Mother of the Year award in 2000 and claimed that Cook charged the cost of the flowers he gave her for Mother's Day to her account.

Sheresky, painted Brinkley as a wife blinded with rage at her husband's cheating (comparing him to famed adulterers Eliot Spitzer, Jim McGreevey and Bill Clinton) and a lazy mother who slept late while Cook woke up their children and got them dressed for school.