“Empowered” by an initial complaint, several women have come forward in recent days to accuse a student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison of sexual assault, prompting his suspension from campus, PEOPLE confirms.
Alec Cook, 20, has been charged with 11 counts of sexual assault and two counts each of strangulation and suffocation and false imprisonment. More charges are expected.
The criminal complaint against Cook — a copy of which was obtained by PEOPLE — states the Edina, Minnesota, native was initially arrested last week after a female college student came forward to accuse him of assault. News of the arrest appeared in local papers and was reported by local news stations, prompting other women to contact investigators.
“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 to come forward told a police detective, according to Cook’s criminal complaint.
Then a third woman contacted detectives with allegations she was assaulted by Cook a year ago. Then a fourth and a fifth. Together their accusations described a variety of sexual assaults — unwanted groping, penetration and physical trauma, including being choked.
One woman described an encounter with him as “one of the worst experiences of my life.”
Court records show a search of Cook’s apartment turned up a black leather book in which he described in detail how he had met several women, with notes on what he liked about each girl and what he wanted to with them.
Some entries included the word “kill,” according to the criminal complaint.
Cook is being held on $200,000 bail, according to USA Today. He has not entered a plea, according to court records, and his attorney did not respond to PEOPLE’s requests for comment.
The initial complainant told police on Oct. 12 that she had known Cook two weeks before he allegedly forced himself on her. The alleged attack occurred in his apartment, according to the complaint, and began when Cook started “kissing her forcibly to stop her from talking.”
Despite her insistence they slow down, the complaint alleged that Cook forced his hands down her pants and fondled her genitals. Next, he allegedly “pushed her in the shoulder so her back was on the bed. He then pinned her to the bed and began taking off [her] clothes.”
Once they were both naked, the woman told police she “accepted my fate and gave up a little bit … I realized he was bigger and stronger — I thought maybe I could just wait this out and then get away,” according to the complaint.
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Nearly three hours later, the sex was over. At times, the woman alleged that Cook “started choking me” by “clenching my neck.” Her “vision started to go” from a lack of oxygen, she told police, alleging Cook started slapping her in the face.
The victim said she later learned she’d sustained vaginal abrasions and tearing.
Police questioned Cook days later, and, according to the criminal complaint, he told detectives he was uncomfortable discussing his sex life. “Deep down, I am sexually insecure,” he allegedly told police. “It was hard to open myself to her, and it is hard to open myself to you here now.”
According to the complaint, Cook allegedly denied the victim ever asked him to stop and couldn’t recall choking her, saying, “Sometimes I get lost in the heat of the moment.”
More Women Come Forward
Beginning on Oct. 21, more women came forward to accuse Cook of sexual assault going back to at least 2015.
The second woman contacted authorities after recognizing Cook’s picture in local news reports, according to his criminal complaint. She and the other women described allegedly being fondled, hit, harassed and intimidated by Cook against their will.
One woman told police she believes Cook drugged her drink while the two spent time together in February.
Another woman, who told police she met Cook in her ballroom dancing class, said he allegedly grabbed her breasts and butt as they two danced together after being partnered up. She told police she asked Cook to stop, but it changed nothing.
In yet another encounter, a woman accused Cook of turning violent during consensual sex in August.
“He began pressing on the front of her throat with his hand, which she found uncomfortable,” the criminal complaint states. She asked him to stop and he did, but within minutes he was allegedly again trying to choke her, she told police.
Before she ended the sex and left his apartment, she alleges Cook started striking her.
Cook, a junior majoring in business, has been suspended and banned from campus, University of Wisconsin officials said in a statement. Friends of his reached by PEOPLE declined to comment, and his family could not immediately be reached.
“We were shocked and saddened to learn that several U.W.-Madison students have reported being sexually assaulted by a fellow student,” the university’s statement reads.
“Sexual violence is unacceptable in our campus and community.”