|←||SVU, Episode 15.07||→|
|Production number: 15007|
First aired: 6 November 2013
| Written By|
John P. Roche
A singing coach and popular TV personality is accused of sexual abuse by his students.
Singing coach Jackie Walker is at the height of his career, with a featured role on television's biggest reality show, American Diva, and a steady position teaching music at a prestigious New York City school. When a four year-old student comes forward with claims of sexual abuse, Detective Rollins asks the squad to be mindful of Walker's reputation, but Benson's investigation uncovers evidence that condemns the popular personality. As the case becomes public, more and more victims come forward, but Walker refuses to come clean.
Singing coach Jackie Walker (Billy Porter) is at the height of his career, with a featured role as a singing coach on TV's biggest reality show, "American Diva," and a steady position as a Pre-K music teacher at the prestigious Margaret Fuller School, which is on 58 East 81st Street, off Park Avenue in New York City. The Margaret Fuller School charges each student $50,000 a year in tuition.
American Diva has a new star: 14-year-old Grace Belsey (Carly Rose Sonenclar), who is from West Orange, New Jersey. It's the show everyone is watching, including 4-year-old Jonah Allen (Jake Katzman). As Jonah watches Grace and Walker on TV after Grace performs a song, Jonah claims that Jackie makes him play "doctor." That claim takes Jonah's mother (Kelly Deadmon) by surprise. Mrs. Allen notifies the cops.
At the precinct, Benson questions Jonah, whose wealthy parents separated three months ago. Jonah says Jackie follows him into the restroom. When Rollins tells ADA Pippa Cox that Jonah's parents separated three months ago, Cox says "And the 4-year-old suddenly comes forward. Could be he wants attention. Could be a divorce maneuver. Get the father down here too."
Amaro and Fin talk to Mrs. Allen. Amaro asks if she's noticed any changes in Jonah's behavior lately, and she says yes. That's when Jonah's furious father Steven (Kevin Michael Collins) comes in, thinking that Mrs. Allen is accusing him of inappropriately touching Jonah.
Steven has to be restrained by Fin. Steven is saying that Mrs. Allen has already reported him to the IRS, and made a false report. Steven says that it's all about the money, and Mrs. Allen says that money is all Steven ever thinks about.
Talking to Amaro, Mrs. Allen, who is talking about Jonah's accusation toward Jackie, says "I swear, if Steven tries to blame me for this..." Amaro says "Why would he do that?" Mrs. Allen says "He wanted public school. I wanted Margaret Fuller." Sounds like Mrs. Allen is the snob of the two.
Rollins talks to Jonah's 15-year-old sister, Brooke (Hana Hayes), who is in tears. Brooke says "This is all my fault." Rollins asks Brooke why she would say that, and Brooke says "When Jonah told me, I should've told our Mom." Rollins says "When Jonah told you what?"
Brooke says "He said that Mr. Jackie followed him into the bathroom and...touched him." Rollins says "When did he tell you this?" Brooke says "A couple of weeks ago. But, I mean, Jonah, he's four. He makes things up."
Rollins says "What other things has he made up?" Brooke says "Sometimes he says he has another family in California, or that he can see through doors, you know." Rollins says "So you thought he made this up too?" Brooke says "It's just Jackie. I mean, I've known him since I was four. I didn't want to believe that he would...oh, God. I think I'm gonna be sick."
Benson is still with Jonah, who has made a drawing. Benson asks what the purple egg-shaped object in the drawing is. Jonah says that it's a "magic egg" that Jackie tickles him in a certain spot with. Jonah says "I say stop, but he doesn't." Jonah says there are bluebirds and flowers in the restroom.
Benson tells Cox that Jonah was adamant that Jackie did something. Fin says that Jackie's clean, and he has no record. A doctor says there are no signs of any STDs, and that the testing for sexual abuse was inconclusive. Benson says that Jonah said nothing about any penetration. But Jonah did say that Jackie keeps the "magic egg" with the rhythm instruments.
Cox says "It's enough for probable cause. I'll get a warrant. Call CSU." Rollins says "CSU? Come on, do we have to make a show out of this?" Fin says "Amanda, you worrying about that school?" Rollins says "No. Jackie Walker. He's an openly gay male teacher. He's a celebrity. He gets accused of pedophilia? I mean, the charges may go away, but the stain won't." Cox coldly says "I'm touched by your concern. We'll keep it in mind."
Armed with a warrant, Rollins and Fin go to the school and find that one of the restrooms on the floor that Jackie teaches on has wallpaper in it, with images of bluebirds and flowers on it. Fin and Rollins go to Jackie's room, where they uncover the special purple egg exactly where Jonah described -- in Jackie's "clap and play" box of rhythm instruments.
Jackie adamantly denies that the egg, which vibrates, belongs to him. Fin and Rollins are told that there are a lot of faculty and staff who are in and out of that room all day every day. Jackie says "Did my producer put you up to this? Am I being punk'd?"
Fin tells Jackie that it's no joke, and Fin and Rollins take him to the SVU, where he's questioned by Benson and Amaro. Jackie denies that he would ever do anything to a child. Jackie continues to deny that the egg belongs to him.
Jackie says he teaches kindergarten because music education is important, not because he's a child molester. Jackie realizes that Benson and Amaro don't believe him. Jackie, who feels that they're not paying attention to what he's trying to tell them, says "You know what? You two aren't paying attention to me, so I'm gonna need my lawyer."
Benson and Amaro exit the room, and tell the others that Jackie has requested his attorney. Cox says "No surprise." Rollins says "Maybe he's innocent. I mean, you guys were going at him pretty hard." Benson says "You're the one who found the eggs where Jonah said they were."
Jackie has been a teacher at Margaret Fuller School for 12 years. He's worked on Broadway and off-Broadway. Jackie was popular before he got the American Diva gig. Fin says that's about to change. Rollins says "All off the word of one four-year-old." Amaro says "And the sex toys. Look, he's grooming Jonah." Cox says "Rollins is right. It's hard to bring a case like this on the testimony of a boy that young."
Benson says "He was consistent. And not by rote." Rollins says "He's also got an active imagination. At that age, the line between reality and fantasy does blur." Cox says "And that's the problem. I believe Jonah, but no judge will find him swearable."
Benson looks disappointed, and Fin says "What do you want from us, counselor?" Cox says "More. He was grooming Jonah with these sex toys. There have to be other kids. I'll call the principal, and put some fear into him."
Later, at the Child Advocacy Center at 207 East 130th Street, Rollins is talking to 4-year-old Cooper Burns (Alex Bento). Cooper also accuses Jackie of using the purple egg on him in the restroom. But Cooper describes a bluebird and pink flower stained glass window as being over a bath tub, which is not how Jonah described the restroom. Surprised, Rollins says "The tub? There's a bath tub?" Cooper says "I mean, the sink."
Benson and Rollins talk to Cooper's panicking mother, Allison (Jennifer Roszell). Allison remembers Cooper arriving from school without underwear one day a month ago, due to an unspecified accident that Cooper wouldn't say anything about.
The detectives discuss the case, and Rollins points out that the two descriptions of the restroom were a lot different from each other. Benson says "Right, but I would be more concerned if their language was exactly the same." Fin calls Rollins with the news that Jonah's saliva was recovered from the egg, along with fecal bacteria. And there is a second unknown sample.
Cox quickly says "How about Jackie? Prints? DNA?" Rollins says "No. And a lot of people have access to that room." Benson says "Those kids told us that he used eggs, they told us where he kept them, and now you have the DNA." Amaro says "Look, you wanted more, counselor. What are we waiting for?"
They get Jackie and his attorney, Linus Tate (David Pittu), to the SVU. Being confronted, Jackie confesses that he was in the bathroom alone with Cooper -- but only because Cooper fell in the toilet and soaked his underwear.
Allison was not the person who picked Cooper up from school that day. To save Cooper from shame, Jackie told him the incident was their little secret, and he never found the right opportunity to inform Allison. Benson and Amaro still don't believe him.
Benson decides to go public with the case, despite the ramifications on Jackie's career. The press's feeding frenzy begins, and Jackie takes a leave of absence from American Diva. Dan Kenner (Ben Livingston), one of the judges on American Diva, speaks on TV, and Rollins says "Isn't that the guy who got his wife's sister pregnant?" Amaro says "Well, he didn't molest kids." Fin says "Are we sure Jackie did?"
Amaro says "Why? Just because he's charming? Look, we've seen this before, alright? We have the DNA, Liv and I were in the box with him." Rollins says "Yeah. All I'm saying, we all know that Liv is working through some things, and her judgment...I just think that she's pushing this one too hard." Amaro, who is Benson's partner, says "I'm going to side with my partner here." Rollins says "Of course you are."
Judge Gloria Pepitone (Sonia Manzano) sets Jackie's bail at one million dollars, which he can't pay. Jackie tells Linus that he doesn't have anyone anymore -- his own brother won't return his calls.
Benson says to Rollins "He can't make bail? Seriously?" Rollins says "He was only on that show for a year. Before that, he was a music teacher." Benson says "This is a classic predator move. He wants everyone to feel sorry for him, that nothing's his fault."
Benson goes to visit her psychiatric therapist, Dr. Lindstrom (Bill Irwin). Dr. Lindstrom, who has heard about the case in the media, asks Benson some pretty good questions.
It comes to a point where there are nine allegations and counting against Jackie from both male and female 4-year-olds, but no fingerprints, and they told varying stories. That seems to be a bit suspicious.
The detectives discuss it. ADA Barba says "Boys AND girls?" Benson says "It's not unheard of. In England, Jimmy Savile." ADA Barba says "I know, I know. Hundreds of boys and girls with a wide range of ages. Tell me that's not what we're looking at."
Benson says "So far, no. All of the victims are preschoolers at Margaret Fuller. They all claim that Jackie Walker tickled them." Barba says "All current?" Benson says "Yeah." Barba says "So, all too young to testify?" Cox says "There are a couple of older siblings."
Barba says "How old?" Rollins says "Six, seven." Barba says "Still not swearable to most judges. So, we've got no testimony. His prints aren't on this egg thing. We still don't have a case. Have any of the older students come forward?"
Rollins says "No, not one." Cox says "But that's not unusual. I mean, the Savile assaults went unreported for decades. I mean, these parents have, have seen the headlines. They don't want their kids caught up in it." Benson says "The first boy, Jonah, has an older sister, Brooke. She's 15. She studied with Jackie Walker when she was four."
Barba says "Did anyone talk to this girl?" Rollins says "I did, yeah. She was beating herself up for not protecting Jonah. She said she felt like it was her fault." Cox says "Maybe she was feeling guilty."
Benson and Rollins go to the Allen residence at 128 East 79th Street to question Brooke. Brooke says that she took private vocal lessons from Jackie for ten years. Brooke says she stopped taking the lessons a couple of months ago because she lost interest.
Brooke says "Music is like a job. I wanted to be a normal kid." Benson, noticing some posters and stuff in Brooke's bedroom, says "It doesn't look like you lost interest. You know, Brooke, if, uh...if Jackie did anything, you know, that made you feel uncomfortable..."
Brooke claims that she, too, was touched by Jackie when she was 4-years-old, causing her to now feel guilty that she didn't protect Jonah. Brook says that though she never revealed it to her parents, she talked about it with her friend Rachel Burns (Kara Hayward), Cooper's older sister.
Benson and Rollins visit Rachel at the Burns residence. Rollins notices that in the bathroom that Cooper is brushing his teeth in, there is a bluebird and pink flower stained glass window above the bath tub, the way Cooper tried to describe it. But the bathroom is not in the school. Rollins asks Cooper if Jackie has ever been to his house before, and Cooper says that Jackie never has, and that he's only seen Jackie at the school.
While Rollins is talking to Cooper, Benson is talking to Rachel. Rachel tells Benson that Jackie touched her as a child too. Rollins takes Benson aside, and tells Benson what she has just learned from Cooper.
Benson and Rollins quickly re-interview Cooper, knowing that Jackie never entered Cooper's bathroom. It's apparent that Cooper is trying to remember details, and Cooper admits that Brooke told him to accuse Jackie of touching him.
Later, at SVU, Barba says "Cooper was coached to lie by Brooke?" Benson says "And it's most likely that Jonah was too. Cooper mixed up the details. He conflated his home bathroom with that of the school's." Cox says "What about the other eight complainants? Brooke and Rachel coached them, too?"
Rollins says "No, we're not saying that, but you know these mothers. They text with each other 24/7. I mean, a kid gets lice, everybody knows who it is within half an hour." Barba says "But we're not talking about lice here."
Rollins says "I know that, but people get themselves all worked up, and it ends up taking on a life of its own." Barba sarcastically says "Extraordinary popular delusions and the madness of crowds? Yeah, it could be."
Cox says "Okay, say the mothers just whipped up the hysteria. Brooke and Rachel are the ones who framed Jackie. Why?" Benson says "Brooke and Rachel disclosed to me last night that they were molested by Jackie when they were four."
Barba says "So instead of coming forward, they coached their younger brothers? Do you believe them?" Benson says "Right now, I don't know what to believe." Barba says "Jackie still at Riker's?" Rollins says yes, and Barba says "Go ask him."
Benson and Rollins talk to Jackie and Linus at the jail. They tell Jackie that they know that he coached Brooke and Rachel up until a couple of months ago. Rollins says "Why did they leave you?"
Jackie says "They didn't leave me. I dropped them. The season was starting, and I had to choose who I was going to coach for American Diva. I went with Grace. To make it, you have to be really special, and those girls just really aren't."
Benson says "Did you tell them that?" Jackie says "Yeah. I did them a big favor. I saved them from ten years of waiting for a break that would never come." Rollins says "And I'm betting they didn't take that really well." Upon realizing what Brooke and Rachel have done to him for dropping them, Jackie says "Oh my God." Now Benson knows that Jackie has been telling the truth all along.
Benson talks to Rollins as Jackie is being led out of the room. Benson says "Brooke and Rachel set him up. They coached their brothers to lie. I mean, that's hardball, even for teenagers." Rollins says "Yeah, but, I mean, Brooke's seen her mother play hardball in the divorce. I mean, kids, you think they're not paying attention, but they don't miss anything."
Rollins questions Brooke at the SVU. Mrs. Allen is with her. Rachel is in another room, with her mother, and Amaro and Benson. The mothers are shocked by what the girls are being accused of. It turns out that the egg was planted in Jackie's class room in an effort to make the frame stick.
Amaro and Benson get Rachel to admit that the frame job was Brooke's idea. Rachel says that after Jackie dropped them in favor of Grace, Brooke was absolutely livid, and she wanted Jackie to pay in spades for that. Rachel says "She made the whole thing up, and told me and Cooper what to say."
In the other room, Mrs. Allen, refusing to believe that Brooke did anything, says "After all my family has been through?! We will sue the city!" Rollins says "With false charges? Just like you threatened your husband?"
Mrs. Allen says "How dare you! Why would my daughter do this?!" Fin says "Because Jackie dropped her as a student." Looking toward Brooke, Fin says "He told you you weren't good enough for American Diva."
Brooke says "He dropped me. So what?! Okay?! I know how good I am, I know I'm gonna be a star, and my whole life, everybody's been telling me that, okay?! It's just a matter of time!" Rollins says "They've been telling you that your whole life? So it must've really sucked when you found out that everybody was lying to you!"
Brooke says "That's not true!" After a pause, Brooke says "Okay, I didn't do this to Jackie! Jackie did this to me! Mom, don't let them get away with this!" Mrs. Allen says "I won't, I won't. Let's go." Fin says "Mrs. Allen." Mrs. Allen says "Yes? What?" Fin sarcastically says "You must be really proud of your daughter." Brooke and Mrs. Allen leave.
In court, Cox asks that the charges against Jackie be dropped, and asks that their apologies be extended to Jackie and his family. The charges against Jackie are dropped. Out in the hallway, Rollins talks to Jackie, saying "I know you don't want to hear any more apologies...I'm sorry."
Jackie says "You're sorry?! Is that supposed to make it right?!" Benson says "I can't imagine--" Cutting her off, Jackie says "No. You can't." Rollins says "Mr. Walker, if you want us to talk with the school..." Jackie says "Haven't you done enough?! You all dragged me into this! I told you from the beginning that I had nothing to do with it, that I was innocent, and you didn't believe me! You wouldn't even listen to my side!"
Rollins says "We, we will work hard to clear your name." Jackie says "Clear my name!? My name is ruined! It was front page news when you charged me! You see any cameras out there today!? I'll never teach again! My life is over!"
Barba says "Mr. Walker?" Jackie says "And those two girls, when do they get charged!?" Barba says "The DA has agreed to let them take a plea. For misdemeanor obstruction, they'll do one year's probation."
Shocked, Rollins says "Probation? Are you kidding me?" Barba says "We can't take this to trial. The girls won't testify against each other. The only way to make a case is to put two 4-year-old boys on the stand to testify against their sisters. Those boys are damaged enough as it is." Jackie says "THEY'RE damaged!? Heh. I see." Rollins says "Mr. Walker, there--" Cutting her off, Jackie says "No! Get away from me! Just get away!" Jackie angrily walks away.
Benson says "I keep going over it in my head. Those kids did not sound coached." Amaro says "We had the DNA. We were just doing our job." Barba says "People lie, people make mistakes, and people get hurt. This comes with the territory."
Rollins says "You know, you guys can keep telling yourselves whatever you want. This didn't have to happen." Rollins walks away, as the camera focuses on a guilt-ridden Benson, and the episode fades to black.
- Mariska Hargitay as Detective Olivia Benson
- Danny Pino as Detective Nick Amaro
- Kelli Giddish as Detective Amanda Rollins
- Ice-T as Detective Odafin Tutuola
- Raúl Esparza as A.D.A. Rafael Barba
- Dann Florek as Captain Donald Cragen (credit only)
- Jessica Phillips as Assistant Corporation Counsel Pippa Cox
- David Pittu as Defense Attorney Linus Tate
- Bill Irwin as Dr. Peter Lindstrom
- Alison Fernandez as Zara Amaro
- Sonia Manzano as Judge Gloria Pepitone
- Billy Porter as Jackie Walker
- Kelly Deadmon as Mrs. Allen
- Jennifer Roszell as Allison Burns
- Kara Hayward as Rachel Burns
- Hana Hayes as Brooke Allen
- Carly Rose Sonenclar as Grace Belsey
- Ben Livingston as Principal Dan Kenner
- Kevin Collins as Steven Allen
- Ashanti as Herself
- Clay Aiken as Himself
- Taylor Hicks as Himself
- Alex Bento as Cooper Burns
- Jake Katzman as Jonah Allen
- Dawn Yanek as TV Reporter
- Kimberly Stern as Grace's Mom
- Charlie Romanelli as Grace's Dad
- Madeline Hoarle as Emma
- Isabel Harper Leight as Charlotte
- Mason Schneiderman as William
Background information and notes
- This episode was partially inspired by the McMartin Preschool Trials in the 1980s.
Episode scene cards
Margaret Fuller School
Child Advocacy Center
Law & Order: Special Victims Unit