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"My body became a crime scene": UW-Madison sex assailant hears from victims at sentencing

Alec Cook in court June 21, 2018

WISC

Last Updated Jun 21, 2018 4:02 PM EDT

MADISON, Wis. -- A judge has sentenced a former University of Wisconsin-Madison student who pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting three female students and choking or stalking two others to three years behind bars. Dane County Circuit Judge Stephen Ehlke sentenced 22-year-old Alec Cook of Edina, Minnesota, on Thursday to three years in prison and eight years of extended supervision.

Cook, who faced a maximum 40-year sentence, will also have to register as a sex offender for 15 years, reports the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel

Prosecutors were seeking a sentence of 19 years in prison, while the defense recommended eight years of probation, reports CBS affiliate WISC. Ehlke said he had to give Cook credit for having no criminal record, no bail violations and sparing the victims a trial.

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Alec Cook

CBS affiliate WISC

Cook was initially charged with more than 20 crimes against nearly a dozen women, including misdemeanor disorderly conduct and felony sexual assault for incidents between September 2014 and October 2016. Cook was majoring in real estate and urban land economy before he was expelled from the university in June 2017. 

He has spoken little in court during his numerous appearances since October 2016, when he was first charged.

At Thursday's sentencing hearing, the judge heard impact statements from two victims and the mother of a victim, WISC reports.

"In less than 24 hours my body became a crime scene and my life changed forever," said one victim's statement, read in court by a rape crisis center advocate. "Part of me died in order to survive that night with him."

The victim had urged the judge to impose the maximum sentence of 40 years, The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.

Another victim described her PTSD symptoms and the fear she had when she would see Cook on the UW-Madison campus, the station reports.

The Journal-Sentinel reports Ehlke briefly choked back tears as he addressed the victim, who said she felt shame and that her kindness had been preyed upon.

"She has nothing to feel shame about," Ehlke said. "She did nothing wrong. Please continue to be kind," the judge told the woman, who frequently sobbed as she read her statement.

In a letter to the judge on Tuesday, Cook's parents said they believed their son's accusers and asked for a sentence that includes treatment.

"We believe in holding people accountable for their actions," they wrote. "We also believe in the power of redemption. And this is what we ask the court to give Alec: A chance for redemption."

Cook cried as he apologized in court to his victims, WISC reports.

"I'm sorry. I was wrong. You told the truth and everyone should believe you," Cook said. "This is my fault. You didn't deserve this and neither did your families. To them, too, I am so sorry."