Judge rejects meeting with lawmakers over ‘slap on the wrist’ for rapist

Some Wisconsin lawmakers want to meet with a judge who decided a three-year sentence for an Edina man who pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting three women was fair.

Alec Cook, 22, a University of Wisconsin Madison student before he was expelled, had been charged with 23 criminal counts involving 11 women before he took a plea deal.

Last week, Dane County Judge Stephen Ehlke sentenced Cook to three years in prison and eight years of supervision and probation.

Prosecutors had sought a nearly 20-year prison term.

In a letter, the lawmakers say they want to meet with Ehlke, Madison.com reports.

“Your lenient sentence amounts to a slap on the wrist for a serial rapist whose violent and sadistic sex crimes will haunt his victims for years to come,” the letter states.

“The message your sentence sends to Mr. Cook’s victims, to the UW campus community, and to our community at large is clear: In just three or fewer years, this predator will be back on the streets because men like Alec Cook, men with privilege, are above the law.”

They say the sentence will discourage other victims of rape and sexual assault from coming forward.

“Plenty of people have no idea that it’s even possible to sentence a serial rapist this lightly,” tweeted Abby Honold, the former University of Minnesota student who was raped by another student and had to fight the system to get justice.

“Survivors are left to feel abandoned by the system that was supposed to restore order, protect their safety, and provide justice,” state Reps. Lisa Subeck, Terese Berceau, Dianne Hesselbein and Sondy Pope wrote.

“When it comes to reporting these crimes, the message you send future sexual assault victims is: Why bother?” they said.

The chief judge in Wisconsin rejected the legislators’ request, telling them it would be unethical and suggesting they look at court transcripts to“gain a first-hand understanding of what actually occurred in the courtroom.”

During sentencing, Ehlke said he struggled with the right thing to do.

Ehlke said he weighed the seriousness of the crimes, protection of the community, Cook’s character and need for rehabilitation, and whether the sentence would severely depreciate the gravity of the offenses, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel wrote.

  • >>Ehlke said he weighed the seriousness of the crimes, protection of the community, Cook’s character and need for rehabilitation, and whether the sentence would severely depreciate the gravity of the offenses<<

    …and then let him skate by with that slap on the wrist…

    What a complete miscarriage of justice.

  • RBHolb

    Was this sentence terrible? Yes. I don’t care what “actually occurred in the courtroom.” The sentence was far too lenient for this type of crime.

    Should the judge meet with legislators, to explain himself? No. If an independent judiciary means anything, it means that judges do not have to answer to elected officials in another branch of government. Let him answer to the voters, but don’t pretend that these officials are overseers of the courts.

    • Mike Worcester

      //Should the judge meet with legislators, to explain himself? No.

      Absolutely. Judges (and yes, that includes SCOTUS justices), should never be cozy with elected legislators. And elected officials should never do what State Rep. Jim Newberger did in Jan 2016.
      https://www.sctimes.com/story/opinion/2016/01/14/legislator-crosses-line-letter-judge/78783850/

    • MikeB

      At the national level we get to entertain the “perception” of judicial independence. The courts are politicized. Only a matter of time until it fully seeps down to the state level.

  • chlost

    Good for him. There is that concept of separation of the three branches of government in that piece of paper called the Constitution.
    I am certain the lawmakers have already got a plan as to what that branch will be doing in response. Soon there will be punch cards to simply indicate the charge, the statutory sentence and the criminal history of the defendant, computer algorithms applied. Bing, bang, beep. Out comes the sentence, no discretion or human input.

  • Dan Lind

    That sentence equates to just over 3 months of prison time for every woman he sexually violated.

    Careless drivers often have their drivers license suspended for 90 days. Serial rapists deserve a little bit harsher sentence, don’t ya think?

  • Zachary Mott

    Cool. So now those Wisconsin lawmakers will introduce a bill revising the sentencing guidelines for these sort of offense, right?

  • Jerry

    Remember, in the eyes of our justice system, a 22 year old white male who commits 22 acts of sexual assault is a good kid who made some mistakes and could be rehabilitated. If he was black, he’d be an irredeemable super predator and would get life.

  • JamieHX

    Does anyone know if this judge will face an election sometime?