-- A University of Wisconsin-Madison student is accused of sexual assaulting five women and is facing at least 14 felony charges, including second-degree sexual assault and strangulation and suffocation. He has been suspended from the university.
Alec Cook, 20, was first arrested this month for allegedly sexually assaulting a 20-year-old woman at his apartment on Oct. 12, 2016. The victim told police she had known Cook for nearly two weeks and had hung out with him four or five times prior to the alleged assault. On the night of Oct. 12, she decided to go to his apartment after the two had studied together in the library, she told police. Once there, she told police, Cook sexually assaulted her for two-and-a-half hours. At one point she says she "accepted my fate and gave up a little bit. I realized he was bigger and stronger. I thought maybe I could just wait this out and then get away," she told police. Cook confirmed that he had sex with the woman but denied that she had ever said “no” or pushed him away, according to court documents.
On Oct. 19, a second woman reported that she was sexually assaulted by Cook in February. She said she met Cook during a human sexuality class in January 2016; they had been dating for a few weeks at the time of the assault. Authorities believe this woman may have been drugged by Cook; according to documents from Dane County Court, "she began feeling abnormal and losing control of her bodily abilities after consuming the unknown liquid provided by him." She said they had non-consensual sex and that she passed out at one point. The alleged victim told detectives, "I didn't want to ruin his life. I felt ashamed to tell anyone, because I thought it would make him look bad." But when she saw the media reporting another girl's alleged assault from Cook, she felt "empowered. I thought I could now finally tell."
On Oct. 19, a third woman reported that she was assaulted by Cook throughout the spring of 2016 during a ballroom dancing class, during which "he would touch me inappropriately and I would tell him to stop." She estimated Cook had inappropriately touched her between 15 and 20 times throughout the semester. She said she asked Cook to stop several times but he continued to grope her.
On Oct. 21, a fourth woman reported to police an assault from March 20, 2015; she said she was digitally penetrated by Cook at his apartment.
On Oct. 24, a fifth woman told police that she and Cook had non-consensual sex at his apartment on Aug. 28. She said Cook repeatedly tried to choke her. She told police "she felt like an object and not a person."
A Madison, Wisconsin, police detective said that "dozens of females have come forward wanting to speak about unknown acts related to Cook," according to court documents.
Authorities have also recovered a black book from Cook's nightstand drawer with women's names inside. "Each entry showed how Cook met the female, and what he liked about them," court documents say. "The entries went on to document what he wanted to do with the females. Disturbingly enough there were statements of 'kill' and statements of 'sexual' desires."
Cook appeared in court today; his attorney told ABC News that a plea of not guilty was entered for misdemeanor charges and no pleas were yet entered for any of the felony charges. Bond was set at $200,000 and he remains in jail. His next court date was set for November.
Cook's attorney Jessa Nicholson today disputed the ballroom accusation, also telling reporters after court that the sexual encounters with the four other women were consensual.
Cook's attorneys Christopher T. Van Wagner and Nicholson said in a statement Wednesday: "The internet has replaced the streets. As a result, for the past few days, we have seen how the rapid-fire internet news cycle erodes that presumption of innocence. This is exactly what is happening to Alec Cook right now. Alec, a 20 year old business major with no criminal history, has seemingly been charged, tried, and convicted. The rapid-fire news cycle, combined with the viral nature of social media, has resulted in a modern-day character assassination that is very real and very wrong."
Cook was majoring in real estate and urban land economics, a spokesman for the University of Wisconsin-Madison told ABC News.
The university released a statement about Cook on Wednesday.
"We were shocked and saddened to learn that several UW–Madison students have reported being sexually assaulted by a fellow student. Sexual violence is unacceptable in our campus and community. We’re committed to transparency and communication, especially in a case as serious as this one," the statement read.
The university said once he was arrested, Cook was placed on suspension, prohibiting him from campus.
"We take every report of a sexual assault seriously and are committed to building a campus free from sexual assault, dating violence and stalking," the statement said. "We encourage survivors to come forward to police, who have specially trained officers who can help. But it’s up to each survivor to decide whether to report, and to whom. If you’re not ready to report to police, students can also report a sexual assault to UW–Madison by contacting the Title IX Coordinator or the Dean of Students Office."