Former UW-Madison student Alec Cook, accused of sexual assault, stalking and other offenses mostly involving female UW students, will plead guilty on Wednesday to five criminal charges, one of his lawyers said Monday, days ahead of the first of seven anticipated trials against Cook that were to begin next week.
Cook, 21, of Edina, Minnesota, has been expelled from UW-Madison and was to stand trial next week before a Dane County judge in a Jefferson County courtroom before a Jefferson County jury on six counts involving a woman who told police Cook became too sexually aggressive with her.
Instead, said Jessa Nicholson Goetz, Cook will plead guilty to five of the 21 counts, then will await a sentencing hearing about three months from now. The sentencing hearing would follow a pre-sentence investigation by the state Department of Corrections.
The agreement would entirely resolve the case, which had been broken into seven trials by the two Dane County judges hearing the cases. The remaining counts against Cook in the case would be dismissed, but judges could consider them when sentencing Cook, Nicholson Goetz said.
Nicholson Goetz said it was fair to say that the plea agreement comes after ongoing negotiations between herself and co-counsel Chris Van Wagner and state prosecutors, and was shaped in part by recent pre-trial evidentiary rulings, such as a ruling last month that barred prosecutors from introducing notebooks belonging to Cook at his trial.
Judges Stephen Ehlke and John Hyland ruled that police went beyond the consent they were granted to search Cook’s apartment for certain items when a detective looked through and photographed one notebook, then obtained a search warrant to seize other notebooks from Cook’s apartment.
Another recent ruling moved the trials in the case from Dane County to Jefferson County so that a jury could be picked that had not been influenced by publicity the case has received in the media.
Cook was first charged in 2016 with 12 counts of varying degrees of sexual assault involving six women, along with several other charges that include stalking, disorderly conduct and false imprisonment. Prosecutors and police allege that 11 women have been victimized.