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Cochran's ex-wife claims abuse

LOS ANGELES, Aug. 17 -- The ex-wife of O.J. Simpson's lead attorney, Johnnie Cochran Jr., accused the famed defense lawyer of physical abuse and mental cruelty during their 18-year marriage in a book released Thursday. Barbara Cochran Berry said in 'Life After Johnnie Cochran' that she believes Simpson -- accused of killing his ex-wife after years of physical and mental abuse -- 'had the right attorney.' 'I thought O.J. has an attorney who has a lot in common with him,' Berry said in her book. 'I, too, always felt John needed to control me, as well as all women around him.' Berry details at least three instances of violence at the hands of Cochran who tore her dress on one occasion and, on another occasion, hit her three or four times on the head while yelling, 'I'm going to hit you where there won't be any bruises.' At a Los Angeles news conference Thursday, Berry said Cochran had urged her to deny allegations of physical and emotional abuse detailed in divorce records when a reporter found them earlier this year. 'I could not and would not deny the truth any longer,' Berry told reporters. 'When John called again, he tried to bargain with me. 'Barbara,' he said, 'you will want for nothing ever, if you'll just deny everything. Tell the reporter I was a wonderful guy and that will be the end of everything.'' When questioned in February about the allegations in the divorce papers, Cochran maintained that he had never struck his ex-wife.

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Berry also accuses her ex-husband of having an 'onstage/backstage dual personality.' After reconciling with him on one occasion, 'more and more often, I experienced the very mean-spirited person behind the charitable and humor-laced public persona everyone else saw,' Berry said in her book. The famous attorney's ex-wife also details Cochran's long-standing affair with mistress Patricia Cochran, with whom Cochran had a child, during their marriage. Cochran assured his mistress that he would marry her after he split up with Berry and even completed paperwork for Cochran to assume his last name, but abruptly married another woman, Berry claims in her book. Dale and Johnnie Cochran are still married, while Berry and Patricia Cochran have appeared on at least one television show together. Patricia Cochran turned against Cochran earlier this year, filing a lawsuit accusing Cochran of breach-of-contract for failing to provide promised financial support for the rest of her life. A Superior Court judge throughout the suit in June, but gave her permission to refile some portions of it. Cochran, now one of the nation's best-known attorneys, is known for his smooth wit and charm and expensive, natty suits. Cochran took over the post as Simpson's lead attorney from Robert Shapiro in January, and heads a large team of lawyers defending the former football hero. Simpson, 48, is being tried in Los Angeles County Superior Court on two counts of first-degree murder for the June 12, 1994, stabbing and slashing deaths of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, 35, and her friend, Ronald Goldman, 25, outside her Brentwood condominium.

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