A motion by the State to merge two new charges with former University of Wisconsin student Alec Cook’s 21-count case was denied Friday.
Instead, Cook will be charged in at least two separate trials, according to the written decision by Judge John Hyland. The first will try Cook on 21 counts of various criminal charges ranging from disorderly conduct to sexual assault by use of threat or force.
The second will include charges from the most recent victim to come forward, according to the written decision. That trial will try Cook for false imprisonment and disorderly conduct from an incident dating back to September 2014.
According to the criminal complaint, Cook allegedly positioned himself between the victim and the door of a residence hall laundry room. The victim made several attempts to leave, but Cook continued to block her path. Eventually, two men found the victim and escorted her out of the situation.
The two charges stemming from that incident will be tried separately because the case of victim is “too different” from the cases of the previous 10 victims, according to the decision.
In his written decision, Hyland used the example of how the false imprisonment charge in the second case was not violent, as the nonconsensual sexual assault charges were. Therefore, the two were not closely enough related to be tried together.
“The events leading up to Victim 11’s claim of false imprisonment have a similarity to some other claims, but simply persisting in carrying on a conversation and ignoring a person’s verbal and physical attempts to leave a public space through an open door are not common factors shared by the two different cases,” the decision reads.
Hyland’s decision only “partially” resolves pending issues regarding the defense’s original motion for joinder and severance, defense attorneys Christopher Van Wagner and Jessa Nicholson said in a statement.
The motion for the previous charges to be split up into separate trials is still pending. Judge Stephen Ehlke will decide at Cook’s next court date whether or not to split up the 21-count case into separate trials.
Cook’s next court date is September 8.