An Edina High School graduate who attends the University of Wisconsin is expected to be charged this week with sexually assaulting four women while investigators look into additional cases.
Nine criminal charges filed last week against Alec R. Cook, a 2014 Edina High School graduate, include second degree sexual assault with the use of force, strangulation and suffocation, battery and false imprisonment, according to documents filed in Dane County Court. Three other women later came forward alleging they also were sexually assaulted by Cook, 20, a college senior. Charges in those cases are expected to be filed Thursday.
Campus police, who investigated one case that occurred on campus, are investigating “multiple” other complaints against Cook, said spokesman Marc Lovicott. Those investigations are “ongoing,” and more charges could be filed later this week, he said.
Meanwhile, Madison police, who investigated three off-campus cases, have been contacted by “dozens of other females,” according to a search warrant filed last week after Cook was charged in the first case.
Searching Cook’s apartment, Madison police investigator Grant Humerickhouse said he found a black leather book that included a series of women’s names, followed by descriptions of how Cook met the women and what he liked about them.
“The entries went on to document what he wanted to do with the females,” Humerickhouse said. “Disturbingly enough, there were statements of ‘kill’ and statements of ‘sexual’ desires.”
Cook was charged last week with multiple counts of sexual assault after a woman said he assaulted her Oct. 12 in his apartment. According to the criminal complaint, the woman told investigators she was sexually assaulted over several hours and strangled to the point of near unconsciousness. She told investigators that she was afraid that if she fought back harder, he would further injure her. “I’m afraid to really fight because of his size and strength,” she told investigators.
Cook denied the allegations during an interview with police.
After his arrest, a 20-year-old woman told authorities that Cook sexually assaulted her in February, also in a downtown apartment, according to a Madison police incident report. The report quoted the woman as telling a police detective, “I saw the news story and was [so] empowered by another girl being able to tell what happened to her, that I thought I could now finally tell.”
A third woman, a 20-year-old Madison woman, reported that Cook sexually assaulted her in 2015 in a downtown apartment.
A team of detectives is working these cases, police said, “and any other victims and witnesses are encouraged to contact” authorities, the report added.
In the case being investigated by university police, a woman reported she was touched inappropriately by Cook on at least 15 different occasions in class during the spring semester. The campus police referred 15 counts of 4th-degree sexual assault to the Dane County District Attorney.
Last week, a harassment restraining order against Cook was filed in Dane County.
Cook, who is being held in Dane County jail, is expected in court on Thursday.
In court earlier this week, Cook’s attorney, Christopher Van Wagner, said his client has cooperated with authorities.
“Much of what has been on Facebook has been character assassination of my client,” said Van Wagner, who confirmed Tuesday what he had said during and just after Monday’s court hearing. “He’s been accused of serious crimes, but the media firestorm has prompted a lot of people to apparently go back and re-examine their relationships with him.”
He pointed out that some of the cases were reported long after the events and pose “a great deal of proof problems for the state.” Van Wagner said he hasn’t seen the journal that Cook kept on the women. “I was an English literature major in college,” he said after the court proceeding. “And I know from that that every single short story can be interpreted at least 12 ways.”
UW-Madison placed Cook, a senior majoring in real estate and urban land economics, under “emergency suspension” in the wake of the allegations, school spokesman John Lucas said Tuesday. Cook is also “banned from setting foot on any campus lands” as part of his bail conditions, Lucas added.
In a statement issued Friday, Dean of Students Lori Berquam said the case against Cook is “serious … and the university is responding.”
Berquam added that university officials are “committed to providing supportive and prompt responses to students who have experienced sexual assault. Students have many options and services available to them on and off campus, including mental health counseling, victim advocacy, off-campus legal assistance, and access to the criminal and campus disciplinary systems.”
In Edina, Cook played rugby at school. In an online school bio, Cook wrote that after attending UW-Madison, he intended to study at Yale and eventually become an astronaut.
Cook was featured in the school newspaper in February of his senior year and portrayed as an outgoing fellow who often roamed the halls strumming his guitar.
“I was bored [in music class] so I just started walking around with the guitar,” he said. “Usually, the teachers find it really funny.”
Along with music, Cook told the newspaper that his main influences are “the Christian God, number one. And then probably Satan as number two, because without Satan, God would have nothing to do.”