Suspended UW-Madison Student Alec Cook Released From Jail After Bail Cut In Half

A Dane County Judge Reduced Cook's Bail From $200,000 to $100,000 After New Charges Filed Against Him


A suspended University of Wisconsin-Madison student charged with multiple counts of sexual assault has been released from jail after his bail was cut in half at a hearing this morning.

Dane County Judge Valerie Bailey-Rihn originally set bail for Alec Cook, 20, of Edina, Minnesota, at $200,000 in October, it was reduced to $100,000.

Alec Cook. Dane County Sheriff’s Office

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Last week, Cook’s attorneys, Christopher Van Wagner and Jessa Nicholson, filed a motion asking for Cook’s bail to be reduced to a signature bond. They wrote that prosecutors hadn’t filed any new charges against Cook after saying they would.

Yesterday, prosecutors amended the original criminal complaint adding six disorderly conduct and stalking charges related to five additional women, according to the Wisconsin State Journal. The new charges include accusations that Cook followed women around campus and stared at them incessantly.

In a video outside the courtroom, Nicholson said the only reason the prosecution filed new charges is because they were feeling pressured by the defense’s motion to reduce bail.

“When you look at those, I think that they’re a stretch at best,” Nicholson said. “We anticipate filing a motion to dismiss with regards to many of the new charges.”

Nicholson also disagreed with the prosecution’s argument that Cook’s behavior became more violent over time.

“The way that they restructured the criminal complaint is to give what I would suggest is a false appearance of escalating behavior,” Nicholson said. “What it is, is behavior that no one paid any attention to and no one considered criminal.”

Van Wagner added that the new charges are not the ones that the prosecution originally said they would file.

“These aren’t the charges they threatened,” Van Wagner said. “So we said alright, the gig is up, we know what (the prosecution) got, (the prosecution) didn’t hear anything more than what (they) saw in the complaint.”

Assistant Attorney General Michelle Viste, who argued the state’s case, declined to comment after the bail hearing, according to the State Journal.

The District Attorney’s Office also did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The judge also banned Cook from Dane County, except for court hearings and meetings with his attorneys. Cook was ordered to surrender his passport and banned from using social media.

Cook’s preliminary hearing is scheduled for Jan. 20, however Nicholson said she and Van Wagner plan on filing a motion to dismiss the case before then.

Cook was first arrested Oct. 17 for allegedly sexually assaulting a 20-year-old woman in his apartment on Oct. 12. He is accused of sexually assaulting, harassing or stalking a total of 10 women. Cook has been charged with a total of 21 felonies and misdemeanors related to the accusations.

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