A Wisconsin college student is facing charges after three women told police he sexually assaulted them.
This week, Madison police cuffed Alec R. Cook, 20, on charges of second-degree sexual assault, strangulation and false imprisonment. Since his arrest, two other women have come forward with similar accusations.
“Our detectives had a sense there might be more victims,” Madison police spokesman Joel DeSpain told The Daily Beast. “We’re encouraging anyone with information to continue to contact [police].”
The first woman went to cops on Sunday, four days after Cook allegedly assaulted her. She and Cook studied at a University of Wisconsin library, then went to his apartment, where he allegedly held her in a “death grip,” the Wisconsin State Journal reported.
Cook was arrested Monday and released two days later on a signature bond. But the Edina, Minnesota native turned himself in Thursday after a second female student saw Cook on the news and told police he assaulted her too.
“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,” the second woman told a Madison detective, according to an incident report.
On Friday, a third UW-Madison student told authorities Cook sexually assaulted her last year at a downtown apartment. Hours later, the university released a statement announcing Cook was “under emergency suspension.”
The long-haired frat boy, a senior majoring in real estate and urban land economics, remained at Dane County Jail as of Friday afternoon, officials told The Daily Beast.
His attorney, Chris Van Wagner, told the Journal that Cook has “nothing to hide” and questioned why the alleged victim would wait four days to call cops.
“The complaint says what it says, but he is adamant that everything that happened was consensual,” Van Wagner told the Journal.
But Erin Thornley-Parisi, executive director of the Dane County Rape Crisis Center, said it’s not unusual for victims to wait to report assault to police.
“When somebody is traumatized, there is no right or wrong way to respond or act,” Thornley-Parisi told The Daily Beast.
“It’s so, so prevalent in the news right now that it’s possible that women are just feeling like, ‘People are going to have my back on this,’” Thornley-Parisi said.
“If somebody knows something about this [the Cook allegations], whether they have been a victim or know somebody, it can be helpful to police and to the prevention of further sexual assaults,” she added.
The initial accuser told authorities she met Cook after nearly hitting him while riding her bike on University Avenue. They kept in touch on Facebook and met in person a handful of times after that, the Journal reported.
The night of the alleged attack, the woman worked at a State Street business until 7:30 p.m., then met Cook for dinner. Afterward, they studied at a university library before heading to his apartment at 11:30 p.m.
The woman allegedly told Cook she was looking for a long-term relationship, instead of casual sex. In response, Cook assured her they wouldn’t do anything that made her uncomfortable, she said.
But Cook became forceful while kissing her, she said, and he allegedly assaulted her repeatedly despite her demands for him to stop. The woman told police Cook refused to let her leave his apartment.
When she got home, she texted her brother and said Cook held her in a “death grip,” preventing her from seeking help. “I don’t feel like I was assaulted…I don’t think. But I feel very weird,” she wrote, according to the Journal.
The woman told Cook she didn’t want to see him again via text message, but he allegedly told her he wanted a “second date.”
Cooks’s fraternity, Phi Delta Theta, announced they “separated” from him in a press release, but it’s unclear when he left the group.
On social media, UW-Madison students expressed outrage over the allegations and stood in support of the unnamed accuser.
One student named Grace penned “An Open Letter to Alec R. Cook,” in support of the woman and condemning his “alpha male” behavior. The blog post was shared by NARAL Pro-Choice Wisconsin and state Rep. Melissa Sargent.
“When I saw your mug shot, my roommate and I recognized you immediately,” Grace wrote. “We remembered you from a birthday party for one [of] our good friends. We remembered how your size and booming voice allowed you to command so much space. I didn’t know then that these attributes were just weapons in your arsenal.”
The writer claimed to be “quietly afraid” of Cook at the party.
“We never spoke or interacted, but seeing you walk back and forth, exerting your alpha male presence and mass from room to room made me stand a little closer to my boyfriend, willing you to go away,” Grace said in the post.
“The saying ‘a wolf in sheep’s clothing’ doesn’t apply here because, Alec, you are a wolf- plain and simple,” she added. “I knew it then and I sure as hell know it now.”
Cook’s attorney did not return messages seeking comment on the letter.