In the criminal justice system, sexually-based offenses are considered especially heinous. In New York City, the dedicated detectives who investigate these vicious felonies are members of an elite squad known as the Special Victims Unit. These are their stories.
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A high-profile activist suspects her sister has been kidnapped by a hate group. Garland and Benson push for change with NYPD brass. Kat gets some good news.
When a tourist is found dead in Central Park with the word 'guilty' written across her forehead, Detectives Olivia Benson and Elliot Stabler recover photos from the victim's camera. With the help of crime scene unit technician Dale Stuckey, they discover that former artist Peter Harrison was at the park during the crime. After arresting Harrison for questioning, the detectives leave Detectives John Munch and Fin Tutuola to keep Harrison under close surveillance. But when Harrison suddenly escapes, Detective Munch must turn to his ex-wife Gwen for help.
When Pamela Galliano seeks to have a restraining order reinstated against her ex-boyfriend, Tyler Gleason, the assigned judge has something else on his mind. In order for some peace of mind, Judge Koehler asks Detectives Elliot Stabler and Olivia Benson to question a convicted serial killer about the whereabouts of his son's body, which adds a new twist to the case.
Kim Garnet is found brutally beaten after she sends out nude photos of herself via text message. Detectives Olivia Benson and Elliot Stabler pay a visit to Kim's boyfriend, Steve Walker, but eventually learn that he is not the only recipient of the nude photos. Kathleen Stabler steps in to give Kim advice, as she tries to track down the culprit who distributed the photos. But after Counselor Samantha Copeland demands that Benson arrest Kim for producing and distributing child pornography, Kim must face the possibility of life-long consequences when Judge Hilda Marsden hands down an unusually harsh sentence.
When it is reported by Ruth Walker that her two year-old granddaughter, Sierra Walker, is missing Detectives Olivia Benson and Elliot Stabler investigate. After rounds of interrogation and a failed Amber Alert, Benson and Stabler believe that the prime suspect is none other than Sierra's young and irresponsible mother, Ashlee Walker.
After an up-and-coming artist is brutally murdered in her apartment, Detectives Odafin Tutuola and Elliot Stabler link her death to another unsolved murder case. As they pursue the case further, they realize that these two murders have striking similarities to a string of murders by a mysterious serial killer that Detective Victor Moranhas been following for months. Moran fights to keep his control over the case as Detectives Fin and Stabler struggle to find the killer.
Young girl, Miriam Burdett, is found in an alley, with her throat cut and evidence of repeated rape and physical abuse. When asked to write who attacked her, because of her inability to speak, she draws a picture of the devil. When Detective Munch investigates, he finds several reports of a local priest, Father Theo Burdett, who neighbors claim is a devil worshipper.
When Detectives Benson and Stabler arrive on the scene of a single murder, they discover two more dead bodies, those of Tisa Flores and Alejandro Reyes, in the apartment next door. They investigate Tisa's past and find that she was working at a strip club owned by a former Rockette, Birdie Sulloway. Birdie and her nephew Chet try to assist with the investigation, but when the prime suspect for the three murders suddenly dies, the detectives discover a vigilante with a violent past.
Pediatrician Gilbert Keppler is found guilty of sexually assaulting four of his male patients. Soon after his trial, his attorney Lionel Granger informs the detectives that Keppler will be suing the NYPD and the Denslow Medical Center on the grounds that they knew he was sexually abusing patients long before they took any action to stop him. Detectives Elliot Stabler and Olivia Benson decide to go directly to Keppler for questioning only to find him murdered in his apartment. To the detectives' surprise, ADA Alexandra Cabot shows up at the crime scene, after three years in the witness protection program. Attorney Lorna Scarry reminds Cabot how tough solving a case can be. The SVU team must put the past and lost time behind them in order to solve the case.
When a man is found badly beaten with no memory of what happened in a strip club parking lot, Detectives Olivia Benson and Elliot Stabler are at a loss for evidence as a rainstorm washed away any clues. A fake fingernail embedded in the victim's back leads the detectives to believe that the attacker is female. Detective Benson and Stabler turn to the female dancers at the club for questioning, but a homeless man, Sid Gabbert, points the detectives to the victim's truck. Using evidence found in the truck, the detectives learn that the victim, Mark Van Kuren, was sent to repossess the car of strip club dancer, Molly "Misty" Lambert. After questioning "Misty," Van Kuren awakes in the hospital with no memory, but brings the attention to his ex-wife Ellen and their 13-year-old transgender son Henry.
When young girl Rosie Rinaldi is kidnapped, the girl's mother, Liz Ranaldi immediately points Detectives Olivia Benson and Elliot Stabler in the direction of her ex-husband, Geno Parnell, a recently paroled convict. When Parnell's alibi checks out, a fight erupts between Parker and Detectives Stabler and Odafin Tutola, which in turn unveils some knowledge on Parker's ex-wife. Parker admits Liz's father is Frank Hagar, a master thief with a lot of enemies. The detectives pay a visit to Hagar, but are surprised to find he has a severe case of Alzheimer's disease. With the help of Dr. George Huang, the detectives are able to put together a few clues to solve the case, but must pair up again with Parker in order to find Rosie.
When the body of a fourteen year-old girl is found floating in the Hudson River, Detectives Olivia Benson and Elliot Stabler think she was smuggled into the country by sex traffickers. In an effort to identify the body, Detective Benson goes undercover as a Madame and busts sex trafficker Alik. When Alik makes a deal with ADA Kim Greylek he identifies the body as Elsa Lychkoff. To the detectives' surprise, Elsa wasn't a prostitute, but a child prodigy. Prying more into the victim's secret life, the detectives investigate her elite boarding school and her roommate Jennifer Banks, who in turn, leads them to compulsive gambler, Joseph Lychkoff, Elsa#s father. When the motive of Joseph seems obvious as to why he would kill his daughter, Detective Odafin Tutuola discovers some new evidence could change the entire case.
Heather Hallander miraculously returns home after being reported missing over four years ago. Unrecognizable to her family, Heather tells Detectives Olivia Benson and Elliot Stabler of the cement cell where she spent the past four years as a sex slave and of her fortunate escape. Heather's sister, Erica Hallander, is relieved to see her long-lost sister after launching a website asking for search tips, but, Nikki Hallander, Heather's other sister, seems annoyed with her return. In search of the mystery kidnapper, Benson and Stabler drive Heather around town to help stir up any memories of her abduction. When Heather's answers don't seem to match up, the detectives find revealing evidence that make them question Heather's kidnapping and true identity.
Kelly Sun is found wandering Riverside Park, beaten and raped, and has no memory of what happened. Detective Olivia Benson discovers Sun was on her way to Korea, but never boarded her flight and instead is found leaving the airport with mystery man, Eric Lutz. Lutz becomes an immediate suspect, and with further probing, the detectives find amateur pornographic videos on Lutz's computer. Detective Elliot Stabler and Detective Benson search for incarcerating evidence against Lutz, but each of his victims from the videos suffer from memory loss from the attack. Attempting to trace the other women in the videos, the detectives must re-inform each victim of their attack in order to get their testimony to catch Lutz. Struggling to remind each victim of their rape, Detective Benson must face the fact that she still thinks like a victim, and get the testimony of one victim in particular, Laurel Andrews, to put Lutz away for good.
Detective Olivia Benson is put to the test when pregnant Corporal Jessica Crewes disappears from her post as a Marine, and is about to give birth to her rapist's child. When Jessie is found dead in the trunk of her car, Navy Commander Grant Marcus attempts to take over proceedings, but Detective Benson and ADA Kim Greylek must fight together and stand their ground to keep the case within the SVU squad. With flashbacks of sexual assault, Detective Benson soon realizes that her past may stir up painful emotions that threaten her ability to remain professional, and enlists the help of Detective Odafin Tutulola to find Jessie's killer.
Mia Lorimer claims to have been raped in attempt to hide being abused by her husband, Brett Lorimer. Their tenants, Jonah and Linnie Malcolm, are aware of the abuse, but in fear of being evicted, do not report it. With the help of Linnie, Detective Benson gets Mia to confess to being beaten by Brent, and sends her to a battered women's shelter. After Brett is arrested and makes bail, Mia returns to her husband and drops all charges to Detective Benson's dismay. Devoted to Mia's safety, Detective Benson hides in the secret stairway of the Lorimer, leading her to come across another case of spousal abuse and murder.
Detective Elliot Stabler arrives on the scene of a murder to find a young woman brutally killed, and carrying a rare bird species found dead in her purse. Dr. Melinda Warner comes back with some startling evidence - the saliva found in the cuts on the victim's body shows she was mauled by a tiger. Oscar Assadorian leads the detectives to the victim's twin sister, Anna Bleers who in turn leads the detectives to Hip Hop artist, Gots Money. Gots, who admits to working for an animal smuggling ring, agrees to go undercover with Detective Stabler to catch the smugglers, Andre Bushido and Tybor. But when Detective Olivia Benson poses as a prostitute to help out her partner undercover, Detective Stabler finds himself wounded and his marriage in disarray.
When a boy is lit on fire, Detectives Elliot Stabler and John Munch investigate the malicious crime. In search of a lead, the Detectives end up at Blessed Heart High School, where their student escort, Max Matarazzo introduces them to the 'Blessed Heart Chastity Circle' and senior Alec Bernardi. Alec admits to hurting the victim, but in turn opens a new door for the detectives when he unveils a group of pregnant teenage girls. A strange web of secrets and bad blood in this "close-knit" neighborhood offers a challenge for the detectives.
Detectives Elliot Stabler and Olivia Benson find themselves in unfamiliar territory when Doctor Raye Massey calls them in to investigate the case of a baby infected with AIDS. The detectives enlist the help of Dr. Melinda Warner, a member of an AIDS surveillance team along with Dr. Massey. While Dr. Warner investigates the baby's medical case, Detectives Stabler and Benson discover that the baby had been prescribed ineffective vitamins by Doctor Gideon Hutton, who runs a "voodoo" medical practice. After the detectives probe for more answers, similar cases of mistreated AIDS surface, such as the death of Susan Ross' daughter. Her 18-year-old son Tommy Ross also gets pulled into the case, forcing him to decide whether to take on his mother's belief in homeopathic medicine or fight against it. With Dr. Warner's medical research and testimony, the case calls the ethics of Dr. Hutton's practices into question.
After famous astronaut Marga Janssen's corpse is found afloat in the waters of Battery Park, Detectives Elliot Stabler and Olivia Benson initially believe the murder is linked to a string of serial rapes. Upon further investigation, this theory is proven false when their suspect's alibi checks out. At a dead end, Detective Stabler turns to his old mentor and former colleague of Janssen's, NASA astronaut Dick Finley to shed some light on the case. Finley's advice exposes several more suspects, but possibly takes the detectives further from the truth.
Young woman is found trespassing in a family's home, and Detective Elliot Stabler is called in to catch the intruder. The trespasser's wallet leads Stabler to a surprising suspect, his daughter, Kathleen Stabler. Detective Stabler is shocked to find his daughter has fallen in love with the kind of crowd he spends his days condemning. With his family life at stake, Stabler must decide how far he will go to save Kathleen, even turning to his estranged mother, Bernadette Stabler, for help. In order to save Kathleen, Detective Olivia Benson knows that she must step in to help her friend and partner before things take a turn for the worst.
Teenage boy Eric Byers admits himself into the squad room, and warns the team about an unnatural desire towards his younger stepbrother, Cory Kelly. Detective Elliot Stabler and Olivia Benson's suspicions arise, and Eric admits to also looking at a website to try to curb his pedophilic urge. With no crime committed, the detectives decide to investigate this self-help website for pedophiles leading them to it's creator, Jake Berlin. Eric's rage induced stepfather is also questioned, and shortly after Eric is found missing. The detectives must race to place the clues together to find and stop Eric before any crime is committed.
After a young boy, Christopher Ryan, is caught driving a runaway van, Detective Elliot Stabler and Detective Benson take the seven year-old into questioning. When Christopher claims his foster parents, Gwen and Noah Sibert, bribe him in exchange for abusive medical testing, the detectives investigate his allegations. As Detective Benson continues to study the boy's accusations, she is led back to a former unsolved rape case involving Kaitlyn Murphy. After reviewing both cases, Benson uncovers a common factor, and with help from new A.D.A Kim Greylek she just might be able to solve the cases.