University of Wisconsin student Alec Cook’s defense attorneys scheduled him to appear for a preliminary hearing Dec. 27.
His defense team, Christopher Van Wagner and Jessa Nicholson, appeared at the Dane County Courthouse Monday afternoon for a status conference.
Cook was not present at the conference. He remains at Dane County Jail awaiting possible release on a $200,000 cash bail.
At the hearing, the 20-year-old is expected to face 15 counts of multiple charges spanning from sexual assault to false imprisonment.
The official criminal complaints include seven counts of second degree sexual assault, three counts of third degree sexual assault, one count of fourth degree sexual assault, two counts of strangulation and suffocation and two counts of false imprisonment.
The counts, comprised of 14 felonies and one misdemeanor, span five different women.
A preliminary hearing, commonly referred to as the “trial before the trial,” is where evidence is presented against the defendant so that the case can proceed to trial. Its primary purpose is to determine whether or not there is enough evidence to continue to prosecution.
The prosecutor, the state of Wisconsin in Cook’s case, must present enough evidence to establish “probable cause” to suggest the defendant may have committed the crime.
In any felony case, an arrest or a criminal complaint is not enough to expect the defendant to stand trial for the alleged crime.
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Unless the prosecution can provide substantial evidence to truly charge the defendant, the defendant cannot be required to stand trial.
If the state of Wisconsin cannot provide substantial evidence to formally charge Cook with the charges listed in the most recent criminal complaint, he will not be required to stand trial.
If the state of Wisconsin presents enough evidence against Cook to formally charge him with all previously mentioned 15 counts, then he will have to stand trial.
Cook’s next court date regarding bail and release has not been set.
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