FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – A Broward County prosecutor said in court Friday that she intended to file a bar complaint against defense attorney Herb Cohen for his behavior at a recent deposition of a sex crimes victim.
During the deposition of the victim, who allegedly suffered abuse and torture from her stepfather for years starting when she was just 12-years-old, Cohen became agitated when the victim, now 22, told him that he seemed worse than the defendant in the case, millionaire developer Louis Bianculli.
"Can you be in the room with me?" Cohen asked her, according to the court reporter's transcript at the June 12 deposition.
"No," she answered. "You're just like Lou, but worse."
"F--- you," he said.
The victim was allegedly walking out the door when he said it, and allegedly heard a portion of it and turned around.
"Let the record reflect that Mr. Cohen said to the witness, and I quote, 'F--- you,'" prosecutor Katie Bogenschutz said during a hearing Friday.
"I said it under my breath," Cohen said. "Let me tell you something, that comment, this case has turned into such a piece of s---. ... F--- her and all of you people, OK? I'm not a criminal and I'm not a f---ing rapist. You understand? You think I'm going to stand here and take this s---? Well, you're wrong. It's over."
At one point, Bogenschutz said, "Let the record reflect that Mr. Cohen is screaming."
"I'm screaming at Katie Bogenschutz … you're God damn right," Cohen said.
"After, he told my witness to f--- herself," Bogenschutz said.
Cohen's co-counsel, Jayne Weintraub, said the victim was out of the room and didn't hear it, but Bogenschutz said, "I believe she heard you."
Cohen wasn't finished berating Bogenschutz, who is the daughter of one of the best-known attorneys in Broward County, David Bogenschutz.
"What I've forgotten in this business you will never learn," he said. "And the s--- you learn, you have no clue how to apply, and I'm done taking crap from you. Your witness tells me I look like this rapist, only worse? And that's all OK with you? … I'm not going to stand by and let you cause abuse to me. This is the last straw."
Though he clearly referred to his client, Bianculli, who has never been convicted of any sex crimes to date, as a "rapist," he denied it on Friday.
"You did not call your client a rapist?" Local 10 News investigative reporter Bob Norman asked Bianculli.
"Absolutely not, and he's not guilty of these charges," Cohen said.
He also denied cursing at the victim in the case.
"I never said anything to this girl nor would I," he said. "She's had a hard enough life, a hard enough time. I wish her absolutely the best."
Judge Michael Rothschild sealed the transcript of Cohen's rant and struck it from the record of the case at a hearing two weeks ago.
However, at a status hearing Friday, Bogenschutz asked that it be unsealed so she could file a bar complaint, something Rothschild agreed to do.
When Cohen and Weintraub complained to Rothschild that it would wind up on "Bob Norman's blog," Bogenschutz explained that she had shared a copy of the transcript prior to the document being sealed with the victim's civil attorney.
Norman obtained a copy of the transcript from a confidential source not connected to Bogenschutz or the state attorney's office.
Rothschild then dressed down all the attorneys.
"All the lawyers involved in the Bianculli matter are getting ridiculous, ridiculous -- the most unprofessional case I've had in my four years on the bench," Rothschild said. "The behavior of the lawyers in this case has almost become as terrible as the allegations in this case. And yes, I said that on the record."
He was especially angry with Bogenschutz, saying that making the transcript of Cohen's outburst public could "poison" the trial and that his job was to "ensure that those matters don't corrupt this case going further in Broward County. Maybe they have. Maybe they will."
Rothschild also threatened to throw Bogenschutz off the case, saying that if she can't control what information goes public, "maybe you shouldn't be the one prosecuting this case, and if that needs to be done I will take that step."
The judge then asked for Bogenschutz to get her supervisor to the courtroom and took all of the attorneys to his chambers for a closed door meeting.
After the meeting, Cohen said he came out "smelling like roses."