Milwaukee kidnapping, sexual assault; mental exam ordered for James Cole

James Cole

The court has ordered a competency examination for James Cole, the Milwaukee man accused of kidnapping a woman at knifepoint inside a downtown parking garage, ordering her to drive around the city before sexually assaulting her on April 8. A report is due by July 10.

Cole, 57, is charged with first-degree sexual assault, kidnapping and armed robbery. Court and law enforcement records show he is being held in the Milwaukee County Jail on $500,000 cash bond.

Once in custody, prosecutors said Cole admitted he targeted the victim because "she was young looking and she was vulnerable." 

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Parking garage

According to a criminal complaint, the victim pulled into a parking garage near 2nd and Michigan around 9:15 a.m. She was sitting in her car when a suspect, since identified as Cole, knocked on her window and said something was wrong with her car.

The complaint states Cole later told the victim he worked at the parking garage – which he did not – and that she could not be sitting on her phone in her car. The victim said Cole then pulled out a knife and stuck it through her partially opened window, poking her arm.

Cole then ordered her to hand over her purse, she said, so she handed him a wallet with $40 cash inside. The complaint states he gave it back without taking anything and ordered her to let him into the back seat of the car. He opened the rear driver's side door and got in, keeping the knife out and telling her to drive.

Sexual assault

As the victim drove with Cole in the back seat, the complaint states she told police he said: "Don't worry I'm not going to kill you unless you don't do what I tell you." He also told her he was going to kill someone who snitched on him after a "dope exchange."

According to the complaint, the victim said Cole stabbed the roof of her car twice as he ordered her to drive him around.

They ended up behind a store near Palmer and Capitol – roughly four miles from the parking garage. The complaint states she told police that Cole ordered her to get into the back seat, remove her clothing and perform a sexual act on herself while he did the same to himself. He then ordered her to keep driving, she said, and he again ordered to perform a sexual act – this time on him – near Abert and Hubbard.

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As Cole continued to order the victim to drive around, the complaint states they ended up in Estabrook Park and at one point drove on the bike path.

They then ended up in an alley near Keefe and Bremen. There, for a third time, the complaint states Cole ordered the victim into the back seat where he then sexually assaulted her. The victim said Cole then got out, asked for the car keys, pulled up his pants and jogged away. 

The victim found her keys on a metal grate next to the car, per the complaint. She then drove away and called 911. Police found five latent fingerprints on the outside of the rear door, which identified Cole. The victim later identified Cole from a photo lineup, too.

Cole in custody

Once in custody on April 10, the complaint states Cole initially denied ever seeing the victim or her car, but later said they had a "consensual" sexual encounter that she initiated. However, he later told investigators, "I did what she said I did" – including holding the knife, getting into her car and making her drive around while performing numerous sexual acts.

Cole told investigators he's never done "any stupid (expletive) like this before," the complaint states. He said he was initially "trying to trick" the victim out of her car, but was "not sure" what he intended to do at that point. He reiterated that he didn't know why he did any of it, because he "didn't need any money or anything" but "weird (expletive) started coming into his mind."

The complaint states Cole also said he would like to apologize to the victim, and that he picked her out because "she was young looking and she was vulnerable." He said he picked her out because "she was on the phone and wasn't paying attention to her surroundings." 

As for the knife, Cole told police he tossed it at one point because he was scared and because "normal (expletive) don't do (expletive) like that," according to the complaint.