University of Wisconsin senior Alec Cook is expected to face a 30-count criminal complaint for pending sexual assault cases against him at a bail hearing Thursday.
The formal complaint will include charges of second degree sexual assault, battery, strangulation and false imprisonment.
A total of four victims have come forward to the Madison Police Department, MPD spokesperson Joel DeSpain said. All four women are UW students, he added.
As MPD continues their investigation, UW Police Department has opened their own investigation against Cook, UWPD spokesperson Marc Lovicott said.
At the moment, UWPD has one confirmed victim, Lovicott said. According to a UWPD statement, a woman came forward alleging Cook had inappropriately touched her on 15 different occasions.
Lovicott said the department anticipates more victims coming forward.
UWPD has referred 15 counts of fourth degree sexual assault to the Dane County District Attorney.
Cook is currently under emergency suspension, with no end date set at the moment, UW spokesperson Meredith McGlone said.
Under Wisconsin State Legislature Chapter 17, an emergency suspension can remain in effect until the decision in the hearing on the underlying charges is rendered or the emergency suspension is rescinded. An emergency suspension cannot exceed 30 days, unless the respondent agrees to a longer period.
Cook is currently in custody at the Dane County Jail awaiting a bail hearing Thursday afternoon. According to the Wisconsin State Journal, the prosecuting attorney, Assistant District Attorney Colette Sampson, is arguing for a $250,000 bail.
UW student facing multiple counts of sexual assault released on signature bondFollowing his arrest Monday evening, University of Wisconsin senior Alec Cook was released Wednesday on a $500 signature bond. Cook Read…
Cook’s defense lawyer, Christopher Van Wagner, asked to release his client on a signature bond instead. He argued Cook has no prior criminal history and would be living at his parents’ home in Minnesota.
Under state law, Cook would be permitted to stay with this family out of state so long as he is present for all designated court dates. The presiding judge on the case, however, is able to revoke this right.
During a search of Cook’s apartment, Sampson said investigators found a notebook that they believed contained grooming and stalking techniques for several women.
During the hearing, Sampson showed court commissioner Jason Hanson a copy of the index page to one of the notebooks. The page listed the interests of the women Cook was pursuing and what he would do with them.
One column was marked “kill.”
Sampson said investigators have not yet defined the exact meaning of the column. More than 20 notebooks were recovered, Sampson said, but investigators have only reviewed one so far.
Van Wagner, however, told The Badger Herald that the stories behind the notebooks could be interpreted in multiple ways.
“People ask me, ‘what do you make of the notebooks?’ I was an English literature major in college — every single short story I read could be and was interpreted in at least 12 ways,” Van Wagner said.
Investigators believe that Cook has been sexually assaulting women since March 2015, and over time the level of his aggressiveness has grown, Sampson said.
In the last week, a “social media firestorm” erupted — particularly on Facebook, Van Wagner said. Since the case became public, it has prompted some to step forward and contact the authorities, Van Wagner added.
“There has been a lot of character assassination of my client and a lot of commentary that is not uncommon on Facebook, but it doesn’t help people make a fair judgement about what’s going on,” Van Wagner said.
UW student arrested for sexual assaultThe Madison Police Department arrested a 20-year-old University of Wisconsin student Monday evening for multiple charges, one of which includes second degree Read…
The publicity on Facebook and other social media sites, Van Wagner said, may have caused some people to go back — and in light of the “apparently shocking nature of the accusations” — re-examine their own, older relationships with Cook and conclude whether accurately or not that they may have been the victim of a crime.
These sorts of cases, in which people re-examine events then come claim victimization, pose a great deal of proof problems for the prosecutor, Van Wagner said.
Van Wagner and Jessa Nicholson, Cook’s second attorney on the case, will receive the formal charges against their client at the Thursday hearing. Until they receive and review the formal complaint, they declined any further comment on the case.
As of Tuesday morning, Sampson told The Badger Herald in an email that they are still drafting the amended criminal complaint. They declined to offer any further comment.
Along with Thursday’s bail hearing, Cook has a court date set for Nov. 7 at the Dane County Circuit Court.
Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly suggested two UWPD cases from spring and summer 2016 could be linked to Cook. The Badger Herald regrets this error.