Former UW student accused in assault wants trial out of Dane County

Former UW-Madison student Alec Cook will face seven trials in accusations of sexual assaulting, stalking and harassing campus women.

Cook's attorneys say they will seek to have those trials take place outside of Dane County because of pretrial publicity.Prosecutors pushed for one trial to consider the more than 20 criminal charges against Cook involving 10 women, maintaining Cook had a scheme to victimize women. They said all the cases were related.But in deciding to separate.all but one of the cases into six different trials, Judge Stephen Ehlke says he does not find "striking similarities" between all the cases. Ehlke grouped some of the charges together, but four trials will focus on a single charge. 

Another Dane County judge will preside over over a false imprisonment charge against Cook.Cook's first trial on that charge is scheduled for December.  Cook's attorney Chris Van Wagner says the separation of the cases will help attempt to.ensure Cook receives fair trials.  Van Wagner says the judge's rejection of a.serial.pattern of behavior by Cook involving all his accusers exposes UW-Madison officials as.wrongheaded, in issuing campus bulletins involving Cook around the time.of Cook's 2016 arrest.  "We responded with a simple statement to help our community understand the situation,"  UW-Madison spokesperson Meredith McGlone says, noting an October 2016 statement did not identify Cook by name as it announced "...the student has been arrested on multiple charges." "This is not 'sensationalization,' "  McGlone says.

Assistant Attorney General Christopher Liegel declined comment after Friday's court hearing.Cook also declined comment to 27 News as he left court.  He remains free on $100,000 bail and is living in Minnesota.  Cook's attorneys say he's working.

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