The University of Wisconsin’s flagship campus is reeling from news that a student was charged with crimes against five women, including sexual assault and false imprisonment, during his two years at the school, The Guardian reports. Alec Cook, 20, has been charged with 15 crimes. Police and prosecutors say he befriended other students and eventually entrapped and viciously attacked them, while keeping notebooks detailing his alleged targets. Cook was arrested two weeks ago, after one woman went to authorities. Since then, four others came forward to say they had been sexually assaulted. Then, Madison police said, “dozens of females [came] forward wanting to speak about unknown acts related to Cook.”
“This story is horrifying. It’s certainly spurred conversation on campus,” said Jason Klein of the Associated Students of Madison. “My friends and I are talking about it. I’m hearing other people talk about it. Usually around Halloween, people are getting ready to enjoy the holiday, but right now this is an issue that has certainly marred our campus climate.” The University of Wisconsin-Madison was already under federal scrutiny, for its handling of four other cases of sexual violence. Those cases are among 283 being investigated by the Department of Education’s office of civil rights at 215 colleges. Some cases have been pending since 2013. Cornell University has the most, with five. Columbia, Stanford, Kansas State, Saint Mary’s College of Maryland and UW-Madison each have four. UW-Madison has suspended Cook.