Peter Cook Tells Barbara Walters About Past Failings, New Love

Peter Cook tells Barbara Walters he sacrificed reputation for kids.

ByABC News
October 10, 2008, 9:55 AM

Oct. 10, 2008 — -- In the first interview since his divorce from former supermodel Christie Brinkley, Peter Cook told Barbara Walters he wants to set the record straight. Cook said he wants the world to know that the trial may have left his reputation battered and bloodied, but that it was absolutely necessary.

"This was never about money," Cook told Walters. "This was about me having access to my children. That's it."

Cook and Brinkley battled it out in front of the world this summer, exposing all the sordid details of their nasty breakup in what was one of the ugliest divorce trials on record.

The couple's dirty laundry made headlines almost every day, with Cook characterized as a narcissistic cheater, and Brinkley as a woman scorned, intent on a vengeful public flogging.

The trial came two years after Cook, 49, admitted to having an affair with Diana Bianchi, his then-18-year-old assistant, whom he pampered with gifts and money, including a $300,000 payoff to avoid a sexual harassment lawsuit.

Bianchi testified on Brinkley's behalf at the trial, and after several days of testimony, Brinkley and Cook settled the case. Brinkley won sole custody of their two children, 10-year-old daughter, Sailor, and 13-year-old son, Jack, whom Cook adopted when he and Brinkley married. Cook received $2.1 million and visitation rights, but says he never had a chance to tell his side of the story ? until now.

Cook said Brinkley sent him packing after she found out about the affair and his involvement in online pornographic activity. She immediately limited his access to the children, and he says the humiliating ordeal he endured was really about them.

"I was fighting to continue the role in my children's lives that I had played in their entire lives," Cook said.

"The misinformation that came out during the trial is the elephant in the room for my kids and I'm hoping maybe I can correct some of the wrongs," he told Walters.

Brinkley's attorneys went to court Wednesday asking the judge for a restraining order to keep the children away from Cook until the end of this weekend. She wanted to shield the children from the press attention that would follow the broadcast of the "20/20" interview. The judge ruled that the children would stay with their father for the weekend for his court-appointed parenting time.

In a statement sent to ABC News Wednesday, Brinkley's lawyer, Robert Stephan Cohen, said on behalf of the supermodel: "It is a measure of Peter Cook's character that he has breached the confidentiality agreement that is in the divorce settlement and has sought to present this distorted one-sided view of his marriage. Mr. Cook had his days in court, testified on his own behalf and ultimately agreed with the view of the children's court appointed attorney and psychiatrist that the children should live principally with their mother and that she should be the sole custodial parent."