Brinkley settles N.Y. divorce case
CENTRAL ISLIP, N.Y. — Christie Brinkley’s fiercely combative divorce trial ended Thursday following a week of salacious testimony about her fourth husband’s affair with a teenager and his Internet porn proclivities.
The settlement gives her custody of their two children and some property. The husband, Peter Cook, gets $2.1 million.
"I’m really glad that today we found some peace," said Brinkley, beaming as her silver peace-sign earrings glistened off a galaxy of camera flashes. She clutched her son’s elaborate dinosaur diorama, used as trial evidence that she’s a good mother who helped him with his science project.
She told reporters that while she was happy with the settlement, there was not much to celebrate.
"It’s to me a very bittersweet moment because it really is the death of a marriage," said Brinkley, 54, who has three other ex-husbands.
Signs of an accord emerged Wednesday when testimony was repeatedly interrupted so attorneys could confer among themselves and with the judge. After an all-night negotiating session at a nearby hotel, the parties reached an agreement about 6:15 a.m. Thursday, said Brinkley’s lawyer, Robert Stephan Cohen.
He declined to identify the catalyst for consensus. But on Tuesday, a court-appointed psychiatrist said he thought Brinkley should be granted custody of the couple’s 10-year-old daughter, Sailor, and 13-year-old son, Jack, whom Cook adopted; his biological father was Brinkley’s third husband.
The psychiatrist’s testimony followed one embarrassing revelation after another for Cook, while Brinkley largely came across as a caring mother.
"I think it was pretty clear where this case was going and so it got resolved," said Brinkley’s lawyer.
Unlike Brinkley, who stood before a phalanx of microphones nearly every day of the trial, Cook exited the courthouse with little comment. "It’s everything I asked for," Cook said. His attorney, Norman Sheresky, left without commenting. A call to his office was not immediately returned.
It seemed Sheresky’s only ammunition against Brinkley was to criticize her for wanting to have the trial held in open court, repeatedly saying she wanted to "publicly flog" her husband for his admitted affair with an 18-year-old.
"I didn’t want this trial. It’s humiliating for all of us," replied Brinkley under blistering questioning from Sheresky. "I really, really wanted to settle this."
Brinkley rejected criticism that the graphic revelations about Cook would have an adverse impact on the children. She sent them to camp during the trial and contended most of the scandalous details already were old news.
They were married for a decade before the 49-year-old Cook met Diana Bianchi while she was working at a Southampton toy store. Cook later hired the then teenager and testified he gave Bianchi a $300,000 payoff after having about a dozen sexual encounters with her in his office and at Brinkley’s Hamptons homes for several months in 2005.
The former Sports Illustrated swimsuit model learned of the affair from the teen’s stepfather moments after Brinkley delivered a June 2006 commencement speech at Southampton High School — the same school Bianchi had graduated from a year earlier.
Cook also admitted spending thousands of dollars a month on interactive Internet pornography, but insisted that he stopped the habit after his breakup with Brinkley.
Brinkley and her lawyers had contended that Cook’s admitted adultery and pornographic proclivities made him an unsuitable candidate for custody.
"Anyone who would run the risk of destroying this wonderful life, anybody that would chase a teenager — I mean, a young girl — where is his judgment?" she said from the witness stand.
Despite a prenuptial agreement, the couple went to trial over child custody and Hamptons real estate properties Cook had advised Brinkley to buy during their decade together. Under the settlement, Brinkley keeps all the properties.
While Brinkley gets custody, Cook will have the children every other weekend and on Wednesday nights — an arrangement that has been in place for some time. He will also care for them whenever Brinkley has to be out of town on business.
The family fishing boat, Sweet Freedom, will be sold and the profit will be split. Cohen said Brinkley’s portion will be donated to a shelter for domestic violence victims in East Hampton. Other terms of the settlement were not disclosed.
Brinkley also has a daughter, Alexa Ray Joel, with Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Billy Joel. The 22-year-old testified that Cook picked on her and once shoved her head into a bucket of water after she showered too long and caused a plumbing problem; he denied it.
Dr. Stephen Herman, the court-appointed psychiatrist, testified that Cook is a narcissist with a bottomless ego and said the model, who has appeared on more than 500 magazine covers, needs to examine her taste in men.