A day after University of Wisconsin student Alec Cook received six new criminal charges, he posted a reduced $100,000 cash bail.
At the Friday morning bail hearing, Cook’s defense team, Christopher Van Wagner and Jessa Nicholson, argued their client’s full cooperation with investigators and lack of a prior criminal record warranted a signature bond instead of the agreed upon $200,000 cash bail.
Initially, at an Oct. 27 bail hearing, the defense agreed to the original bail amount so Cook could avoid having to travel back and forth from Madison to his hometown of Edina, Minnesota.
In addition to lessening travel burdens for their client, the defense said the high bail amount would give the state enough time to add any other criminal charges they saw fit.
On Dec. 8, however, the defense filed a motion to reduce the $200,000 cash bail to a signature bond given the state’s failure to produce any new charges.
Assistant District Attorney Colette Sampson said in an October hearing that the state was looking to add stalking charges after investigators seized notebooks from Cook that she alleged contained “stalking” and “grooming” techniques for “dozens of potential victims.”
In an amended criminal complaint filed Wednesday, the state added two counts of stalking, three counts of disorderly conduct and one count of fourth degree sexual assault.
At the hearing, Assistant Attorney General Michelle Viste said when looking at the potential penalties Cook is facing and the nature of his charges, bail is not high — it’s appropriate.
“When you set bail, don’t forget the defendant’s words — that he ‘let go of societal norms a long time ago,'” Viste said.
Cook’s defense, however, contended some of the the newly added charges were insufficient. Van Wagner added they plan on filing a motion to dismiss some of the new complaints.
Nicholson believes the new charges were filed as a direct response to their motion to reduce bail.
After a brief recess, Judge Valerie Bailey-Rihn granted Cook a $100,000 cash bail.
As part of the non-monetary bail conditions, Cook is prohibited from being in the Dane County area except for when he must meet with his attorneys, appear in court or for UW disciplinary hearings. He is also not allowed access to social media and must refrain from using any drugs while out on bail.
In a WiscAlert sent out Friday afternoon, UW warned community members of Cook’s release. The notification encouraged students to call 911 if they see Cook on campus property since he is banned from the UW campus.
Calling the notification an “invitation for vigilante justice,” Van Wagner said he was astonished and upset the university sent out the alert.
While Cook’s bail conditions prohibit him from being on campus property, he is allowed to be on the UW campus in the presence of his parents or attorneys, especially if he is to attend a UW disciplinary hearing.
“Our client is not the boogeyman: He is a 20-year-old innocent man and is entitled to be released on bond and should not be made to subject to a boogeyman alert,” Van Wagner said. “Reading this [alert] makes it seems like the university police are bound and determined to make sure Alec Cook can never get a fair trial.”
If not intentionally, Van Wagner said this notification implicitly invites those who are not unhappy with the allegations to take vigilante action against Cook.
Cook currently faces a 21-count criminal complaint against 10 women. While out on bail, he will reside with parents in Edina, Minnesota. He is set to appear at the Dane County Courthouse for a preliminary hearing Jan. 20, 2017.