Law and Order
Law and Order
SVU, Episode 3.16
Production number: E2329
First aired: 1 March 2002
  th of 476 produced in SVU  
th of 476 released in SVU
  th of 1229 released in all  
Benson Cynthia Wilmont Popular.jpg
Teleplay By
Stephen Belber

Story By
Stephen Belber & Kathy Ebel

Directed By
Jean de Segonzac


Detective Stabler's wife tells him that her nurse friend at a local hospital treated a fourteen year-old rape victim, who refused to report the crime to the police or her family.


Stabler and and his wife Kathy are discussing their daughter Kathleen’s troubles at school, when Kathy reveals that a friend of hers from work told her about a girl the same age as their daughter was raped, but is too scared to report it.

Stabler starts investigating the case, and convinces Benson to help him find the girl and convince her to report the rape. They find the name of the girl and convince Captain Cragen to let them open an investigation.

They go to the school to talk with the victim, Cynthia Wilmont, who is covered in bruises. she claims to have fallen down a flight of stairs, and refuses to say any more because she is afraid her parents will find out. Benson and Stabler talk to her parents, but don’t tell them about the rape. Benson suspects that Cynthia made the rape story up to conceal her sexual activity from her parents.

They go talk to Cynthia’s best friend Amy Bergen to find out how much she knows. Amy tells them that they have a “club” - Cynthia’s boyfriend, Tommy, and his friends give the girls beer in exchange of sexual favors, like oral sex. She tells them that they fooled around, but never went “all the way”. Benson asks why they do this; Amy replies that the boys are popular and whoever they date is popular too.

Fin and Munch go to talk to the boys and Tommy says that the last time they had a party he didn’t have money for the beer so Cynthia offered to get the beer from an older man. They find out that Ross McKenzie, a 24-year-old substitute teacher, was present in a few of these parties, including the last one.

Benson and Stabler go talk to Cynthia’s parents and try to make her report the rape. She finally says that McKenzie raped her, and the detectives arrest him. The DNA is negative, however. Ross admits that while high, he wanted to have sex with her, but she changed her mind at the last minute and he left her with her boyfriend.

When confronted with the evidence, Cynthia is reluctant to tell the truth but Cragen shows her Tommy's interrogation: Tommy is admitting to his father and the Detectives that he only dated Cynthia because she'll do whatever he wants. Distraught, Cynthia admits to her parents and Cragen that Tommy told her to have sex with his best friend Nick, since it was his birthday and he was still a virgin. Cynthia went with him to the bedroom, stating while he was sweet to her that she couldn't do it because she was Tommy's girl. Benson and Stabler question Nick, who confesses to raping Cynthia after she said no to him, and beating her up after finding out she had given him gonorrhea. Nick and Tommy are arrested, and Cynthia goes home with her family.


Main cast[]

Recurring cast[]

Guest cast[]


Tucker Junior High School; St. Matthew's Hospital; Benjamin Harrison High School


"Olivia, I need a favor."
"Okay. Bear in mind I don't have any money. I'm an underpaid detective just like you."

- Elliot Stabler and Olivia Benson

"You know, it is abundantly clear to me, you are a parent and I am a paycheck."
"You're a good father, but you're overreacting."

- Elliot Stabler and Kathy Stabler

"Well, it's got to be a forgery. Everyone does it. Well, everyone except for your kids. I'm sure you're very intimidating." (pauses) "Well, what now?"
"I gotta make sure our ass is covered. If this goes wrong, I want to make sure you're fine."
"Bit late for that. If anyone traces this it goes straight back to me. I had to show my ID to get the log."

- Olivia Benson and Elliot Stabler

"Why lie about her teacher?"
"Because she desperately wants to belong."
"Now that's taking peer pressure a little too far."

- Elliot Stabler, Olivia Benson and John Munch

"Look at my mom. She's beautiful. If I looked like her..."
"There's nothing wrong with the way you look. You are beautiful, too."
"Right. On the inside. Pretty girls always say that to make the ugly ones feel better."
"Everyone has doubts and problems. Even the ones in the so-called popular crowd."

- Cynthia Wilmont and Olivia Benson

"It's important to be in the in-crowd?"
"It's everything."
"But it's not worth your health and your safety.

- Olivia Benson and Cynthia Wilmont

"What's gonna happen now?"
"Nothing. Even though I know what happened I can't do anything unless you talk."
"So you know what happened?"

- Olivia Benson and Cynthia Wilmont

"Kids tend to lie when their backs are against the wall."
"Adults too."

- Ross McKenzie and Elliot Stabler

"I'm not leaving 'till I know what this is about."
"Well I guess we could do this here. We need to talk about alcohol and drug distribution."
"Okay, okay. I'm leaving."

- Ross McKenzie and Elliot Stabler

"Since when is oral sex not sex?"
"Since Bill Clinton said it wasn't."

- Donald Cragen and Olivia Benson

"I hate talking to kids this age."
"That's because you can't slap 'em if they give you lip."
"Who says I can't?"
"Then what is your issue with the pubescent set?"
"The stink of pimple cream turns my stomach."

- Odafin Tutuola and John Munch

"I am really getting sick of these kids, which is probably why I don't have any."

- Donald Cragen

"We're lucky. We've never had any trouble with the kids."
"Trouble is relative."

- Kathy Stabler and Elliot Stabler

"How old was he?"
"Well, not grandpa old, like you."

- John Munch and Tommy Kessler

Background information and notes[]

  • The episode title "Popular" is a reference to the desire of Cynthia Wilmont and her friends to be part of the 'in-crowd'. The girls were willing to provide sexual favors for the boys, in order to be part of the popular group.
  • This is actress Allison Siko's first appearance as recurring character Kathleen Stabler. She takes over the role from Holiday Segal, who played the role in the first season of the series.
  • Cragen states he doesn't have any children, creating an inconsistency because he made references to having a son in Law & Order.
  • All of the officers are wearing a black band over their badges denoting the death of a fellow officer. Given the timing of the episode, it is likely that the black band was worn for the NYPD officers killed in the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Episode scene cards[]

1 2 3

St. Matthew's Hospital
244 West 17th Street
Monday, February 4

Tucker Junior High
178 Eighth Avenue
Monday, February 4

Bergen Apartment
337 West 21st Street
Monday, February 4

4 5 6

Kessler Apartment
534 West 27th Street
Tuesday, February 5

Benjamin Harrison
High School
461 Tenth Avenue
Wednesday, February 6

Wilmont Apartment
238 West 16th Street
Wednesday, February 6

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