The defense team for former University of Wisconsin student Alec Cook has filed a motion to have 11 separate trials.
Since his initial arrest last October, Cook faces 23 counts of criminal charges from 11 women. They include:
- Seven counts of second degree sexual assault
- Three counts of third degree sexual assault
- Two counts of fourth degree sexual assault
- Two counts of strangulation and suffocation
- Three counts of false imprisonment
- Two counts of stalking
- Four counts of disorderly conduct
Defense attorneys Chris Van Wagner and Jessa Nicholson argued that if all charges were in one trial, there would be “astounding prejudice” against their client. The defense team also cited the “snowball effect” for showing the prejudice that comes with being accused of sexual offenses.
“Individuals who never considered themselves victims of the defendant thus never contacted law enforcement, then saw the media coverage and later reevaluated their previously unreported interactions with the defendant, and suddenly felt it necessary to report something to law enforcement, even though months or even years had passed,” the motion stated.
Pursuant to Wisconsin State Legislature Statute §971.12, charges may be joined in a single trial if “both are of the same or similar character or are based on the same act or transaction or on two or more acts or transactions connected together or constituting parts of a common scheme or plan.”
At his bail hearing, the prosecution argued that Cook is a “serial rapist,” therefore the charges should be tried together. The prosecution also said separate trials would interfere with the jury’s understanding and motive behind Cook’s actions.
Cook’s next court date is Sept. 8.