Alec Cook, who was charged last week with sexually assaulting an acquaintance and then was re-arrested late last week after other women claimed he had also sexually assaulted them, will be charged Tuesday in a 30-count criminal complaint that alleges he sexually assaulted four women over the past several months, a Dane County prosecutor said in court Monday.
Cook, 20, a UW-Madison junior from Minnesota who was suspended from school after the allegations were made, also kept notebooks detailing the grooming and stalking of women, Assistant District Attorney Colette Sampson said.
Cook was charged on Wednesday with multiple sexual assault counts after a woman alleged that he assaulted her at his apartment earlier this month.
He was re-arrested on Thursday after another woman came forward and alleged that he had sexually assaulted her in 2015, police said. Then on Friday, police said a third woman came forward, also making sexual assault allegations against Cook.
A fourth has since come forward, Sampson said, and charges pertaining to her will be included in the complaint. Two more women have also contacted police, she said, and she expects there will later be additional sexual assault charges related to one, and stalking charges related to the other.
Cook appeared at a bail hearing on Monday with his lawyers, Chris Van Wagner and Jessa Nicholson. After hearing arguments, Court Commissioner Jason Hanson declined to set bail, and instead ordered Cook to remain in custody until Tuesday, when another court commissioner will be able to read the criminal complaint and make a more accurate assessment about bail for Cook.
Sampson had asked for $250,000 bail, while Van Wagner asked for a signature bond, arguing that Cook has no prior criminal history and would be living at his parents’ home in Minnesota.
Sampson said the complaint to be filed Tuesday will include the charges filed last week, which would be rolled into the new complaint.
Charges will include 11 felony sexual assault counts, two counts of false imprisonment, one strangulation count and more than 15 misdemeanor sexual assault counts, she said.
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“Since the reporting of the first victim in news coverage, we’ve had numerous victims come forward,” Sampson said. During the execution of a search warrant of Cook’s apartment, Sampson said, police found a notebook that contains what is believed to be his grooming and stalking techniques for numerous women. There were more than 20 such notebooks, she said, but only one has been reviewed by investigators so far.
“Since then there have been individuals who have come forward, and law enforcement is looking through those books to search out additional victims that might be found,” Sampson said.
Sampson showed Hanson what she said was a copy of the index page to one of the notebooks, telling him that it listed the interests of the women that Cook was pursuing, what he would do with them, and one column simply marked, “kill,” which Sampson said has not been defined.
Sampson said that investigators believe that Cook has been sexually assaulting women since March 2015, and over time the level of his aggressiveness has grown. Many of the misdemeanor sexual assault charges relate to women in a dance class in which Cook was a student.
Van Wagner said that a “media firestorm” over the case erupted on social media, particularly on Facebook, and that’s prompted others to come forward.
“Much of what has been reported on there has been, for lack of a better expression, character assassination of my client,” Van Wagner said, “calling him everything under the sun, calling him a ‘dangerous alpha male.’ Those things are horrible things to be accused of, but more importantly, that has prompted a lot of people to apparently go back and re-examine their relationships with him and conclude, whether accurately or not, that they were the victim of a crime.”
Those kinds of cases, in which victims report long after events, Van Wagner said, are “the sorts of cases that pose a great deal of proof problems.”
Of the notebooks, Van Wagner said that when he was an English literature major in college, “every single short story could be interpreted 12 ways.”