Alec Cook kept an “index page” of women’s names at the front of a black leather notebook, prosecutors say. Next to the names were descriptions of the women, and what he wanted to do to them.
“And at the top of the page, there is a box marked, ‘Kill,’” prosecutor Colette Sampson said during a Monday court appearance.
Cook, a 20-year-old student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, was charged with 14 felonies and one misdemeanor on Thursday, for what prosecutors describe as a series of sexual assaults against four women. Cook’s defense team said last week that their client had “nothing to hide,” and questioned why his first accuser waited four days to file a police report. But after “dozens” of women came forward to accuse Cook of misconduct, some of the most damning evidence was found hiding among his belongings.
When police searched Cook’s property last week, they found a series of over 20 notebooks, which allegedly mirrored the allegations against him. The books described how Cook “groomed and stalked” multiple women, Sampson said Monday.
“The pages individually documented a different female in a very systematic way,” reads a search warrant obtained by The Daily Beast. “Further 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.”
The notebook, presented as evidence in a Thursday trial revealed a handwritten form with information about women including “Where met,” “interesting facts/commonalities,” “present goal,” “next step,” “last step,” and an ominous check box labeled “killed?”
Cook’s attorney Chris Van Wagner suggested a faint line through the the word “killed” lessened its importance. “It says ‘killed,’ crossed out, question mark, box,” he told reporters on Thursday.
Van Wagner cautioned against reading murderous intent into the journals.
“I was an English literature major,” he told WKOW when the Wisconsin station first reported on Cook's notebooks. “Every single short story could be interpreted in twelve ways. That’s my response.”
Van Wagner also blamed political correctness for the rage against his client.
“Perhaps the most troubling aspect of this propagandizing is that people commit this sort of character assassination under the nobler (and politically correct) guise of supporting and believing accuser—even before they know if they are actual victims,” Van Wagner and co-counsel Jessa Nicholson wrote in a Wednesday statement. “When we embrace this politically correct blind acceptance, we do not help women.”
They likened the allegations against Cook to rape allegations against the Duke lacrosse team and a University of Virginia fraternity that were not substantiated.
But Cook isn’t facing one accuser: he’s facing four.
Cook met his first accuser after she nearly hit him with her bike on campus, according to a police report obtained by the Wisconsin State Journal. They stayed in touch on Facebook, eventually agreeing to dinner and a library study session on Oct 12. But when they headed to Cook’s apartment, the date allegedly turned violent.
The woman said she laid out her boundaries: She was looking for a long-term relationship, not a casual hook-up. Cook told her he wouldn’t do anything to make her uncomfortable.
But Cook allegedly grew aggressive when kissing, ignoring multiple requests to stop. When the woman asked to leave, Cook sexually assaulted her multiple times, over the course of two and a half hours, "strangling her to the point of near unconsciousness" the search warrant obtained by The Daily Beast reads.
After she escaped, the woman texted her brother, trying to make sense of the encounter, the Journal reports. She couldn’t leave Cook’s apartment or call for help during the attack, as Cook had held her in a “death grip,” she told her brother, adding “I don’t feel like I was assaulted… I don’t think. But I feel very weird.”
She allegedly told Cook she didn’t want to see him again, which didn’t stop him from texting for a “second date.” The woman contacted police several days later.
Cook was arrested on sexual assault charges, and freed on bond shortly after. But news of his arrest prompted other women to come forward with similar stories.
“I saw the news story and was empowered by another girl being able to tell what happened to her, that I thought I could now finally tell,” Cook’s second accuser told a detective, according to a police report.
The second woman, another UW-Madison student, told police she believed Cook had drugged her during a February date, the search warrant says.
The woman told police she had smoked marijuana and drank a shot of alcohol, before Cook gave her an unknown substance. After drinking the substance the woman "began feeling abnormal and losing control of her bodily abilities," the search warrant reads. The woman allegedly rebuffed Cook's advances, then felt bad, she told police. “She has a memory of telling Cook, ‘okay, let’s just have sex,’” the search warrant says, noting that she began feeling "fuzzy," and allegedly blacked out while Cook was putting on a condom. When the woman woke late the next morning, Cook allegedly assaulted her despite her vocal objections. Cook turned himself in on two new counts of second-degree sexual assault, and one count of third-degree sexual assault.
The next day, third accuser came forward, telling police Cook had sexually assaulted her the previous year at an off-campus apartment.
Cook’s fourth accuser, a dance instructor, told authorities Cook had sexually assaulted her during a ballroom dance class, the prosecutor Colette Sampson said during a Monday hearing. The woman allegedly asked supervisors to no longer pair her with Cook during classes.
“Dozens” of other women have come forward to offer their accounts of Cook’s misconduct, police testified Monday. Authorities have encouraged other potential victims to speak up.
“Our detectives had a sense there might be more victims,” Madison police spokesman Joel DeSpain told The Daily Beast last week. “We’re encouraging anyone with information to continue to contact [police].”
But during Cook’s Thursday trial, his attorneys asked authorities to stop seeking new victims.
“Tell [University of Wisconsin communications director Marc Lovicott] to stop urging people to come forward,” Van Wagner said, according to a student reporter.
Cook’s defense also sought to characterize the alleged assaults as consensual. Attorney Jessa Nicholson testified that one of Cook’s alleged victims had faked an orgasm to end the encounter, which Nicholson said suggested consent.
The notebooks seized from Cook’s property suggest he was “groomed and stalked” specific women since March 2015, Sampson said.
But Cook’s defense cautioned against condemning him—or believing his alleged victims—before his trial.
“We also ignore our bedrock principles while we disempower young women, by stereotyping them into ‘victimhood’ without evidence,” they wrote Wednesday. “We urge you to wait for the facts before condemning Alec Cook. You would do the same for your own.”