SVU, Episode 9.13
Production number: 9013
First aired: 15 January 2008
  th of 476 produced in SVU  
th of 476 released in SVU
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Jack Trembley
Written By
Josh Singer

Directed By
David Platt


The horrible rape of a little boy draws the detectives into a culture clash between Orthodox Jews and meshira – secular authorities. But the search ultimately leads them to a 14-year-old culprit with a penchant for sexually abusing younger children.


A young boy, bleeding at school, is taken to the hospital after a security guard notifies the police. There, Detectives Olivia Benson and Elliot Stabler are informed by the doctor the boy was raped repeatedly for months, which caused him to have substantial scarring from prior trauma. The detectives talk to the boy, David Zelinsky, but David refuses to say anything. The detectives interview David's mother, Rachel Zelinsky, about the horrifying events. They're pointed to her former husband, who had David last week.

In his Williamsburg] residence, Detectives Stabler and John Munch question Avi Zelinsky; Avi denies that he ever hurt his son and blames Rachel for this, believing that the events had never occurred. Avi tells them that he was never alone with David and was with his tutor. The detectives demand the tutor's name, but he refuses, because an accusation like that could ruin his life. Stabler then accuses Avi of caring more about the tutor's reputation more than his own son; but Avi responded that he still cares about his son, but he can't risk it. Since Munch knew his religion by heart, he told Avi not to look the other way (quoting a biblical phrase).

In the lab, the doctor ran a rape kit and showed Stabler that the pubic hair was much shorter and that it was nothing more than a tanner stage two. Stabler realized the perpetrator was an adolescent of 12 to 14 years old and that's why David was afraid to tell them. Stabler suspected that David's attacker is one of the boys from his school. Dr. George Huang narrowed it down, thinking that one of them doesn't fit in as equal to other kids his own age, picked on and extremely angry. Dr. Huang talked to David, thinking that it was a boy who attacked him. But, David was still shaken and afraid and doesn't want everyone at school to know. Dr. Huang understood David was afraid, but he told David the only way to protect himself was to reveal his attacker's identity. David didn't show any hesitation and stated his name: Jack Tremblay.

At the resident of Tremblay, Detectives Stabler and Odafin Tutuola took Jack and his younger brother down to the station where they begin to question Jack about the crimes he committed. Fin started to interview Jack's younger brother if he had ever touched him. But, his younger brother stated that Jack had done nothing. After that, the boys' father, George Tremblay arrived trying to take the boys home, but Cragen resisted, because they had to interrogate Jack for what he did.

Stabler asked Jack what happened between him and David. Jack told him everything. Jack watched a movie about prison rape and, thinking that David was cool with it, reenacted the movie. In the other room, Munch asked David if he told Jack it was okay for Jack to touch him. David, still shaken, said he was scared and he didn't know what Jack would do if he said no. Jack claimed he wasn't trying to harm him and David never told him to stop. David cries that he wanted Jack to stop, because it really hurt but Jack kept doing it. Jack tried to defend himself, saying David liked it and they did it a bunch of times. David said Jack kept making him do it, so David asked the rabbi to take him out of New York before he could be raped again. Jack told Stabler that having sex with David would stop the kids his age from teasing him. The man in the movie wasn't teased; the other prisoners respected him.

Mr. Tremblay heard everything his son did and asked Jack in the interrogation room why he did it. Jack denied the rape. Furious, Mr. Tremblay slapped him, but Stabler stopped him, telling Tremblay not to do anything violent to Jack, or he would lock him up for assault. Mr. Tremblay stated he was done with Jack and stormed out of the interrogation room while his son sat confused. Stabler tried to talk Mr. Tremblay out of leaving, but he refused saying that he wanted nothing to do with it and he didn't want Jack near his younger son. Tremblay disowned Jack. He and his younger son walked out of the station house while Stabler looked on.

Cragen tells the newly-arrived A.D.A. Casey Novak that Jack could not comprehend that his actions were wrong. Novak replied that Jack Tremblay was four years older than David Zelinsky and it was officially statutory rape. Consent wasn't even an issue. Suddenly, Roxana Fox appeared behind them and stated she represented Jack Tremblay, after hearing Jack's father called legal aid to give up his son for adoption. Novak originally wanted to try Jack as an adult, but Roxanne claims that she will beat her, because no jury will convict Jack on rape one. Again, Novak told her that Jack is a predator, because he raped David a half a dozen times which as a result lead his father to surrender Jack's Miranda rights. Roxanne also says that kids ofttimes screw around sometimes as a mistake, and, also tells Novak if she tries Jack as an adult, she will be looking at jury nullification. Novak claims that she will take that chance. Roxanne said the same thing, that she is still going to win no matter what.

After an brief argument, Cragen sent David and his family home before Roxanne can say anything to defend Jack. Cragen asks Novak what she can do with the rabbi. Novak thinks, since he kidnapped David, it was an act of custodial interference. But Cragen said, in defense, that David asked the rabbi to take him out of the city before he gets raped again by Jack and it was her call to decide. After that, Stabler releases the rabbi from his cell and apologizes for falsely accusing him of molesting David. The rabbi quickly forgives him and knew that the detectives were trying to save a life and so was he. The rabbi asks Stabler if he is trying Jack as an adult because he believes that Jack knew he had raped David; Stabler is sticking to the law and agrees he is. The rabbi gives him some insight. Soon, Fin walks in placing Jack in the cell telling him that it was too late for the arraignment and they plan to hold Jack over night and locks Jack up. Before the rabbi leaves he gives one more bit of advice to Stabler, suggesting that he asks himself if Jack looks like a man whatever mistake he made. Stabler looks at Jack, and taking the advice from the rabbi, gets the point that Jack is still a child and wasn't mature enough to understand the difference between sex and rape. While Novak is about to prosecute Jack, despite the arraignment agreement, Stabler walks in and ask her to try Jack in Family Court. Novak states that she thinks Stabler is getting soft. Stabler knew that what Jack did was wrong, but that doesn't mean Jack should go to criminal court. However, Novak implies that despite having a father who disowned him it doesn't mean that he didn't knowingly commit rape. Stabler pleads, that despite Jack's mistakes, he still believes that putting a child in prison is not the way to go, that Jack is still a child, he has no one left and he can still be helped. Novak agrees with this and sends the trial to family court.  

During the family court arraignment Roxanne gives brief details about what happened between Jack and David and believes it was a sexual experimentation gone wrong. Novak interrupts and asks the judge to move this case to criminal court and Munch promptly arrests Jack for rape. Roxanne believes this is an outrage, but the judge agrees with Novak and there's nothing she can do about it. Stabler asks Novak what's going on, as he thought they had a deal. Novak informs him that another victim has come forward; a 12-year-old girl. Stabler didn't know he raped a girl. Novak also informs him that she was just the first; a second girl also came forward as she leaving the squad room and she's only 10 years old, the same as David.

At the courthouse, Roxanne talks to Novak about why three innocent victims appeared to bolster the case. Novak informs her that they were afraid to say anything. However, Roxanne's feels that something must have given the girls courage to talk. Also, Novak informs her, when Jack was arrested, they felt safe enough to come forward. Suddenly, they were surrounded by the news who wanted to know the story about Jack and the four victims he molested. Novak refuses to give them answers, but Roxanne steps in and takes the questions for her since they wanted to try the child as an adult and thinks the media is the problem in every child's life. In the judge's chamber, Roxanne gives him details, hypothesis, and her theory that children like Jack are exposed to negative influence from media (including TV commercials, song lyrics, and the internet, which has access to adult entertainment). But, Novak disapproves of this theory and says that media doesn't manipulate Jack to rape, Roxanne just thinks that will boost her defense. The judge is too old to know about the details and doesn't want to favor this decision; instead, he will let the jury decide Jack's fate and will see both of them at court.

At the trial, David and the three girls gave tear-filled testimonies, but the jury rules in favor of Jack. David tearfully askes Stabler why the jury didn't believe him, and Stabler replies that they did believe him, but they believed Jack too.

Munch tells Stabler that the rabbis are setting a good example of unplugging their children from modern life; Stabler replies that he can't shut out the world. Then Munch says that one of these days, it might not be such a bad idea.


Main cast

Recurring cast

Guest cast



He'd rather have everyone think he's a perv than admit he was making out with a girl at the movies.

–Captain Cragen, after discovering that Jacob Ribowski's indescretions were not in fact sexual encounters with little boys but meetings with an Orthodox girl.

They were a couple of kids screwin' around - if you'll pardon the expression.

–Roxana Fox, on the rape allegations against Jack Tremblay.

The Torah says that a boy becomes a man when he is 13. But those laws were not written for your world. Look at him, Detective - does he look like a man to you?

–Rabbi Isocowski, offering advice to Detective Stabler on how he should pursue the case against Jack Tremblay.

David Zelinsky: I don't understand, why didn't they believe me?
Elliot Stabler: David, they did. It's just... they believed Jack too.

I wanted him to stop, it really hurt. I cried but he just keeping doing it

–David Zelinsky, talking about Jack raping him

Enough!, enough You hit him again and I'll lock you up, you hear me?

–Elliot Stabler after George has slapped Jack hard in the face

He's all yours. I'm through.

–George Trembley

Background information and notes

  • The conflict between SVU and the Orthodox Jewish community was likely based on two real-life cases. The first was the case of Shai Fhima, a 15-year-old Jewish boy who was allegedly kidnapped by Orthodox Rabbi Shlomo Helbrans in 1992. The second was the 2008 case of Yehuda Kolko, an Orthodox rabbi who was accused of sexual molestation. Both were cases which drew criticism to Brooklyn District Attorney Charles J. Hynes, who was accused of mishandling both cases out of fear of offending the politically-powerful Orthodox community. These criticisms have continued at recently as 2012.

Episode scene cards

1 2 3 4 5

Apartment of
Avi Zelinsky
308 Hewes Street Williamsburg, New York
Monday, December 17

Family Court
Part 51
Friday, December 21

Trial Part 38
Tuesday, January 8

Trial Part 38
Wednesday, January 9

Trial Part 38
Thursday, January 10

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