Often, when one person reports sexual misconduct, others also feel permitted to come forward. This seems to be the case at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, where dozens of students have accused the same man of sexual assault. First, on October 12, one woman reported that Alec Cook kissed her without her consent, raped her, strangled her, and refused to let her leave his apartment, according to The Washington Post. Cook's lawyer denies that this occurred. After Cook was arrested and charged with sexual assault, another student reported a sexual assault at his hands. "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," she told the police, according to the incident report. Within two weeks, dozens of women had reported similar incidents, WKOW-TV reports. The police found a black notebook in Cook's apartment with women's names and plans for what he'd do to them. "Disturbingly enough there were statements of 'kill' and statements of 'sexual' desires," an affidavit reads. Cook's lawyer claims these do not necessary refer to any of the accusers. Cook is currently in the Dane County Jail and has a hearing scheduled for Thursday. On October 21, the school's Dean of Students Lori Berquam issued a statement announcing that Cook is suspended while the case is investigated. "This is a serious case and the university is responding," she said. "Based on the severity of the allegations and the potential impact on the campus community, the university is disclosing that this student is under emergency suspension from the institution." In a statement posted to Facebook on Wednesday night, Cook’s lawyer, Christopher Van Wagner, called coverage of the case a “modern-day character assassination” and stated that Cook had the legal right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty. Van Wagner declined to speak to Refinery29 about the case at this time.
Editor's Note: This story was originally published on October 26, 2016, and has been updated to include a statement from Alec Cook's lawyer.