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Alec Cook

Alec Cook, right, appears in court in September with his lawyers, Jessa Nicholson Goetz and Chris Van Wagner.

Expelled University of Wisconsin-Madison student Alec Cook, who was scheduled to go to trial on Feb. 26 in the first of a planned seven trials on charges of sexual assault and harassment involving 11 women, is preparing to plead guilty.

Cook’s attorneys called Friday to schedule a plea hearing, according to the office of Dane County Circuit Judge Steven Ehlke.

That hearing is set for 3:15 p.m. Wednesday.

Defense attorneys Chris Van Wagner and Jessa Nicholson Goetz were not immediately available Monday to provide further information. But Channel 3000 reported that Nicholson Goetz said Cook would plead guilty to five charges Wednesday.

Publicity of the charges against Cook was so inflammatory that Ehkle and Dane County Circuit Judge John Hyland ordered the trials moved from Dane County.

The first trial, set to be heard in Jefferson County, involved three counts of 2nd-degree sexual assault, one count of 3rd-degree sexual assault and charges of strangulation and false imprisonment.

The alleged victim, the first accuser to contact police about Cook, said that in October 2016 she began consensual contact with Cook at his campus area apartment, but the encounter quickly became a sexual assault and turned increasingly violent, with choking and suffocation.

After publicity about those charges, other female students at UW-Madison came forward with allegations against Cook. As the number of accusers mounted, Cook was suspended by campus officials and later expelled after a disciplinary hearing.

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Charges against Cook eventually included 23 offenses involving 11 accusers in incidents between September 2014 and October 2016. The charges are:

  • Six counts of 2nd-degree sexual assault/use of force.
  • One count of 2nd-degree sexual assault/sex organ injury.
  • Three counts of 3rd-degree sexual assault.
  • Two counts of 4th-degree sexual assault.
  • Two counts of strangulation and suffocation
  • Three counts of false imprisonment.
  • Two counts of stalking.
  • Four counts of disorderly conduct.

Judges agreed to separate the charges into seven trials to avoid juror prejudice against Cook.

The potential for pleas in the other cases was not clear Monday morning.

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