TEEN'S ON BRINK OF SUING HIM

Teen's on brink of suing him

BY JESS WISLOSKI, JOSE MARTINEZ AND NANCY DILLON
DAILY NEWS WRITERS

The ravishing teen at the center of Christie Brinkley's marital meltdown is a "naive girl" who is now mulling legal action against the supermodel's husband, her lawyer said yesterday.

Peter Cook, 47, caused "substantial and irreparable harm" when he showered aspiring singer Diana Bianchi, 19, with luxurious gifts - including a Nissan Maxima - and then seduced her behind Brinkley's back, the lawyer said.

"It amounts to preying on an innocent, young and naive girl who would otherwise have no attraction to a 50-year-old man," lawyer Joseph Tacopina said. "He offered her money, a job, career advancement. And when he got her comfortable, he made his real intentions known."

He said while Bianchi isn't under age, she was "right at the limit" when the two met. The age of consent in New York is 17.

"I don't think he bought her a car because he's a philanthropist. It's just outrageous," said Tacopina, who is working in tandem with civil lawyer Rosemarie Arnold. "Her eyes are starting to become open. We're evaluating our legal options."

One legal expert said the disillusioned Bianchi might have grounds for a sexual-harassment case since she was working as a low-level assistant at Cook's architecture firm during the alleged liaison.

The two first met while Bianchi, a 2004 graduate of Southampton High School, was working at Stevenson's Toys and Games on Jobs Lane in Southampton, L.I.

"It just sounds so strange. She's really a great girl, and Peter has always been such a gentleman," said the toy store's manager, Susan Watson.

"Diana's a very strong girl, and she's got her own life to live. She's an incredible singer who is going to do really well. Nobody needed this."

Brinkley, meanwhile, packed up the couple's two kids - Sailor, 8, and Jack, 11 - when reporters started questioning her husband's roving eye.

"She thought it would be best to be with her children in a different environment, to be a little more protective of what they will see, hear and come across in the news. It's temporary. They will be coming back," her spokesman Elliot Mintz said.

"For me to say that she's not hurt or shocked, that would just be foolish," he said. "I can't characterize the degree of pain, but any woman reading this gets it."

Cook did not return calls or e-mails seeking comment.

Cook and Brinkley married in 1996. Mintz announced their formal separation on July 11. Brinkley, 52, was previously married to Frenchman Jean-François Allaux, musician Billy Joel and developer Richard Taubman.

Brinkley and Joel have remained good friends, but it's unclear whether the Piano Man has comforted his ex-Uptown Girl. A spokeswoman for Joel, who is touring in the United Kingdom, declined comment.

Bianchi's lawyer, meanwhile, denied a National Enquirer report that her stepdad, Brian Platt, a Southampton Village cop on medical leave, approached Brinkley and Cook and threatened the architect.

"[Platt] spoke to this guy on two individual occasions to say that 47-year-old men don't belong with 19-year-old girls, but it wasn't a threat," Tacopina said. "He was trying to protect a young, teenage girl who's now thrust in the middle of a celebrity divorce scandal."

Members of the Hamptons' chattering class were debating whether Cook's entanglement will have a negative impact on his professional reputation.

They noted Brinkley is immensely popular as a socialite and environmental activist, and that her catwalk fame and deep-pocket connections have been key to his success.

"Architecture, especially architecture in the Hamptons, is a prestige game," said Couri Hay, society editor for Hamptons Magazine.

With Jo Piazza

Originally published on July 17, 2006

Source: NY Daily News