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Fonzarelli defense doesn’t work in sexual assault case

Alec Cook (Dane County Sheriff's Office via AP)

Alec Cook (Dane County Sheriff’s Office via AP)

By TODD RICHMOND
Associated Press

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — A judge refused on Friday to dismiss four charges against a suspended University of Wisconsin student accused of sexually assaulting and harassing several women, despite his attorneys’ claims that some of his actions were no worse than “Happy Days” television character Arthur Fonzarelli’s antics.

Alec Cook is facing a total of 21 charges that also include strangulation and false imprisonment stemming from cases involving 10 women dating back to March 2015. Attorneys for the 20-year-old Cook argue that some of the assaults didn’t happen and that the other encounters were consensual. Cook, who is from Edina, Minn., is free on $200,000 bond.

His lawyers asked Dane County Circuit Judge Valerie Bailey-Rihn to dismiss two counts of stalking, a sexual assault charge and a disorderly conduct charge. They argued that one stalking charge should be tossed because Cook only called the alleged victim beautiful and repeatedly put his arm around her, which they compared to Fonzarelli’s flirtatious antics in the hit TV show.

State attorneys said evidence standards aren’t based on Hollywood’s version of a fictional 1950s Milwaukee.

Cook also asked the judge to dismiss a sexual assault charge, arguing the alleged victim couldn’t say whether he grabbed or slapped her, along with a disorderly conduct charge for allegedly making sexual remarks in a grocery store and another stalking charge.

The judge ruled the charging complaint lays out enough detail to show that Cook’s alleged stalking victims suffered emotional distress and that Cook should have known he was causing them stress. She also said the complaint provides enough details to support the disorderly conduct and sexual assault counts.

The alleged victims include a woman Cook met in a ballroom dancing class, a woman he met in a psychology class and another woman he met at a party. His attorneys have argued that the ballroom assaults never happened, and that encounters with the other women were consensual.

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