"Perverted Justice"
SVU, Episode 16.21
Production number: 16021
First aired: 6 May 2015
  th of 432 produced in SVU  
th of 432 released in SVU
  th of 1185 released in all  
Teleplay By
Robert Brooks Cohen & Céline C. Robinson

Story By
Warren Leight & Julie Martin

Directed By
Alex Chapple


Bayard Ellis takes on the case of a man incarcerated for incest and rape, whose daughter Michelle, the victim and star witness when she was a child, wants to recant her testimony and set her father free. When a judge refuses to reopen the 17-year-old case, the SVU turns to retired Captain Cragen, who remembers the investigation and provides evidence that could change the convict's fate.


A young woman, Michelle Thompson approaches Reverend Curtis after a church service, saying that she needs help contacting Bayard Ellis to help exonerate her dad, who was charged with sexually assaulting her as a child 17 years ago, but after going through her twelve steps of recovery, she reveals that her dad never hurt her and wants to come forward with the truth.

Reverend Curtis contacts Ellis, who asks Olivia to reinvestigate Michelle's case. Michelle is now saying that she was pressured by her mother into saying that her father raped her and wants to recant her statement.

The lead detective on the case, Ted McCormack is hard to find, but Cragen (who's in town) tells the detectives that he remembers him and also knows ADA Kenneth O'Dwyer and goes to speak with him.

At the precinct, Michelle reveals to Benson and Rollins what happened to her: she was trying to make her little brother hot dogs since her mom, Audrey was out of the house drinking and using drugs and her dad was at work, but she burned herself.

When Michelle's parents returned home, they started arguing with each other. Then, Audrey started questioning Michelle, pushing her to say what happened to her was Derek's fault & that he touched her in an inappropriate manner. Audrey called the police and coached Michelle into sticking to her story or people would be mad at her for lying.

When Audrey is questioned by the detectives, she sticks to her story that Derek sexually assaulted Michelle and it's his fault for all of her family's problems while Derek continues to maintain his innocence, saying he never hurt his daughter and that the police had it out for him.

Meanwhile, Cragen discovers a letter that Michelle's first grade teacher wrote to O'Dwyer, saying that Michelle told her that her mother made her lie to the police.

O'Dwyer forwarded the letter to the defense attorney, Cassie Muir and says that Michelle attempted to recant her statement as a teenager, but the detective thought that she was on drugs and didn't believe her. When Rollins and Carisi talk to Cassie, she tells them she remembers the letter from the teacher, but can't remember why she didn't follow up on it.

Ellis sets up a hearing for an appeal on the grounds of ineffective assistance of counsel, but the judge denies it which saddens Michelle and she blames Ellis and Benson for getting her family's hopes up.

Luckily, Cragen is able to get a hold of McCormack and he flies in from Florida to help SVU out. McCormack admits to keeping in touch with Audrey quite frequently and was called to the family's apartment numerous times to break up domestic disputes between Audrey and Derek.

After McCormack leaves, the SVU detectives investigate him and learn that his marriage ended because he had an affair with Audrey. Michelle and her brother Will remember McCormack coming around when they were kids and a month before the trial, Audrey spent the weekend with him in Florida.

Thanks to the new evidence, a judge allows a retrial. O'Dwyer offers Derek a deal to plead guilty and do time served, but he would have to admit to his guilt, have a felony on his record and register as a sex offender. Derek disagrees with O'Dwyer's deal.

At the retrial, Ellis questions Audrey on the stand about her relationship with McCormack and why she waited until the next morning to contact the police. Ellis suggests that Audrey and McCormack accused Derek of sexual assault to keep him out of the way of their relationship.

When O'Dwyer questions Derek, he accuses him of coercing Michelle to recant through letters sent from prison which he denies.

When Michelle is put on the stand, O'Dwyer questions her about whether or not she really did burn her hand and suggests that her dad convinced that she did just like her mom convinced her that Derek raped her. O'Dwyer asks Michelle if her father raped her and she says I don't know and begins to cry. Upon redirect with Ellis she admits that she felt bullied by O'Dwyer much like her mother.  When Ellis asks if he father raped he she says no. .

When Olivia comforts Michelle outside the court, Michelle tells her that she isn't sure whether or not her dad raped her. In the end, Derek is found not guilty, but Michelle feels conflicted about whether or not she did the right thing.


Main Cast

Recurring Cast

Guest Cast



Carisi: I didn't know you were a Unitarian, Sarge.
Benson: Oh, I'm not. I am... actually, I didn't grow up with any religion. I just wanted Noah to have something that would ground him.
Carisi: Then rebel against when he's a teenager, am I right? I get it. I'm Catholic.
Rollins: No kidding.

Cragen: You know, I never thought I would say it, but turns out there's more to life than NYPD.
Amaro: Oh, yeah? Well, the place is falling apart without you.
Benson: Thanks, Nick.

Carisi: Call me Sonny.
Rollins: No one else does.

Captain Cragen. We used to call you Captain Crunch back in the day

–Ted McCormack

Ellis: Thank you, Olivia. We did the right thing.
Benson: Did we?

Background information and notes

Episode scene cards

1 2 3

Green Haven
Correctional Facility
Visitor's Room
Monday, April 20

Conference Room of
District Attorney
1 Hogan Place
Tuesday, April 21

Apartment of
Cassie Muir
90-15 Groton Street
Forest Hills, Queens
Tuesday, April 21

4 5 6

Office of
Reverend Curtis
1657 Amsterdam Avenue
Friday, April 24

Supreme Court
Part 12
Tuesday, April 28

Supreme Court
Part 12
Wednesday, April 29

Previous episode:
"Daydream Believer"
"Perverted Justice"
Law & Order: Special Victims Unit
Season 16
Next episode:
"Parents' Nightmare"
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