Outrage surrounds former UW-Madison student's rape sentence

A judge's light sentence for a man convicted of multiple sexual assaults, stalking and choking women at the University of Wisconsin-Madison is drawing outrage.

Alec Cook admitted he stalked, choked and sexually assaulted women on campus. He could have been given nearly 40 years for the felonies. Instead, he got just three years in prison.

"To only have a 3 year sentence is appalling," said Rachel Monaco-Wilcox, the CEO of Lotus Legal Clinic.

The Lotus Legal Clinic is a non-profit legal aid for sexual assault victims in Milwaukee. Monaco-Wilcox said the punishment is a slap in the face to victims.

"You cannot unring the bell of sexual assault and tell them people heard them. The truth of the matter is if that is what being heard looks like we have a long way to go," said Monaco-Wilcox.

Cook apologized Thursday in court and admitted the women he raped all told the truth.

"I'm sorry, I was wrong," said Cook before he was sentenced.

Dane County Circuit Court Judge Steven Ehlke said during sentencing he knew not everyone would like his sentence. 

"The fact of the matter is it's uncommon to go to prison when the defendant has pled guilty and has no prior criminal record," said Ehlke.

Monaco-Wilcox who practices law said that does not have to be the case. The judge could have given a much harsher sentence because of the violent nature and the multiple victims.

"Where the failure really, I'm sorry to say this, is with the judge. Who in an attempt to try to be 'fair' decided to weigh Mr. Cook's lack of a criminal record against the fact that these women's lives are destroyed," said Monaco-Wilcox. 

Cook's former professor Janet Hyde worries when he gets out of prison he will still be a threat to the community.

"I think it's not only a question of justice. It's a question of protecting the community," said Hyde.

The judge also only sentenced Cook to register as a sex offender for 15 years instead of life. That means he will no longer be on the sex offender register after he is 40-years-old.

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