Back on the streets: Judge releases man accused of attacking woman who wouldn’t give him money

Robert L. Cook, inset, and surveillance images of the suspect. (Chicago Police Department)

Chicago police believe they’ve caught the man who attacked a woman on a downtown CTA platform after she refused to give him money last week. But, even though he has a history of attacking women on the city’s transit system, prosecutors didn’t even ask a judge to keep him in custody. And the judge put him back on the streets without the inconvenience of an ankle monitor.

Back in November 2017, prosecutors charged Robert L. Cook with attacking a 15-year-old girl and a 23-year-old woman on the Red Line in the Loop.

The CTA video showed he used his large body to confine the victims to their train seats, then he pressed against them, wrapping his legs around theirs and grinding his genitals on their legs and buttocks, a Chicago police report said.

Breathing heavily and moaning, Cook allegedly asked the victims if they liked it. The younger victim was a student at Whitney Young Magnet School, and Cook knew she was under 17, prosecutors claimed.

Records show that he escaped from electronic monitoring while that case was pending. But prosecutors dropped the escape charge in May 2021 when Cook pleaded guilty to two counts of kidnapping by secretly confining. That charge, a Class 2 felony, was reduced from Class X kidnapping causing bodily harm.

Judge Joseph Claps sentenced him to six years on each count, to be served concurrently. But the prison time was reduced by 50% by law and further offset by the time Cook had already spent in jail and on an ankle monitor.

Now, prosecutors are again accusing Cook of targeting a victim on the Red Line in the Loop. Chicago police issued a public bulletin about the crime last Friday as they tried to identify the assailant.

Two days later, Chicago police arrested Cook, 46, on the Jackson Red Line platform to face charges in the case.

According to his arrest report, Cook asked a Streeterville woman for money at the State-Lake platform on May 22. He kicked her when she ignored his request and then walked away.

But Cook returned moments later and punched the woman in the face, the report said, causing her to suffer a bloody lip and bruised face.

During a court hearing on Sunday, prosecutors did not ask Judge David Kelly to keep Cook in custody, records show. Kelly cut Cook loose without even requiring him to wear an ankle monitor.

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About Tim Hecke 333 Articles
Tim Hecke is CWBChicago's managing partner. He started his career at KMOX, the legendary news radio station in St. Louis. From there, he moved on to work at stations in Minneapolis, Chicago, and New York City. Tim went on to build syndicated radio news and content services that served every one of America's 100 largest radio markets. He became CWBChicago's managing partner in 2019. His email address is