A rape victim, Rena West, runs through Detective Nate Kendall's crime scene. Kendall rushes her to the SVU precinct and passes the victim off to Stabler and Benson. SVU detectives Stabler and Benson try their best to talk to Rena and help. Rena, however, is hysterical and in shock. Rena is screaming and crying for Kendall, the man who found her. Benson, concerned, approaches the emotionally unstable victim and gets a slap in the face.
Fin tells Benson and Stabler that there were green fibers and bloody sheets found at the rape scene, but no semen. Fin believes the rapist is not a novice at the crime. Benson has Fin check older files for any open rape cases. Meanwhile, Rena is still being uncooperative. Benson informs Cragen that Rena will only talk to Kendall. Rena believes Kendall saved her. Cragen pulls some strings and gets Kendall's location. Benson and Stabler meet Kendall on a rooftop stakeout and convince the young detective to help Rena catch her assailant; even though Kendall doesn't like victims because "they cling."
Reluctantly, Rena tells the detectives her attacker was wearing a suit and that she was able to escape when her rapist tried to get more cord from the window blinds. Although Benson and Stabler are pros at what they do, Rena will not give a description. On the other hand, Kendall's aggressive and militant manner pushes Rena to cooperate. This surprises both of the SVU veteran detectives. Kendall makes Benson and Stabler leave the interview room so Rena feels comfortable enough to give a decent description of the attacker. Despite both Benson and Stabler's hesitation about Kendall's inexperience with assault victims, Cragen tells the detectives it's not a mistake if "it helps catch our rapist." Kendall successfully comes out of the room with a description of the suspect.
While Kendall reluctantly stays with Rena, Benson and Stabler investigate the grocery store where Rena was last seen before the attack. The video surveillance camera in the store is broken, but an autistic neighbor, Spencer, has been filming the neighborhood's activities. When Benson shows Spencer a police sketch of the alleged rapist, Spencer easily remembers what time the suspect stood outside the grocery store. In seconds, Spencer finds the accused and shows Benson and Stabler the picture on the television screen.
Back at the SVU interview room, Rena identifies a man. Fin uses facial recognition software and it identifies Mark Foster. Foster's record shows he used to beat up his wife, but has no current rape convictions. Benson and Stabler go to the meat packaging warehouse where Foster works. When Foster sees the two detectives, he makes a run for it. Luckily, but to Stabler's disapproval, Kendall stops Foster by hitting him with a car. Benson and Stabler scold Kendall for his poor taste in police tactics. Back at the SVU precinct, Kendall believes Rena may have picked out the wrong guy.
Benson and Stabler question Foster. Foster denies raping anyone even before the interview begins. Foster believes the SVU detectives are pinning the rape on him because a white woman got raped in a black neighborhood. Benson wants Foster to prove his innocence by giving her an alibi. Foster claims he went to see his ex-wife the day Rena was raped. However, Benson believes Foster is lying.
Before Benson and Stabler can ask any more questions, the new assistant district attorney, Sonya Paxton, stops them. Jack McCoy has sent Paxton down to "clean house" in the SVU due to too many overturned convictions. Paxton claims that seventy-five percent of wrongful convictions come from witness misidentification in the "he said-she said unit." Paxton wants to be sure that Rena picked out the right man, even though Stabler thinks Paxton's presence is unnecessary. Cragen orders Stabler and Benson to check out Foster's alibi.
Benson and Stabler hear crashing noises from Foster's ex-wife's apartment. When they come in they see Kendall shaking the ex-wife violently and a young kid hiding in the living room. Stabler quickly interjects and stops Kendall from making a big mistake. Kendall, in disgust, says that Foster's ex-wife is a waste and a crack-head. Detective Kendall doesn't think Foster's ex-wife knows anything that could help with the investigation. Benson orders a hot-headed Kendall to take the little girl to get food. Benson asks Foster's ex-wife when she last saw her husband, but the ex is too high to understand.
Fin uncovers an old rape case that was closed ten years ago that fits the description of Rena's case; all the way down to the green fibers. Benson and Stabler quickly go back to the station where Fin informs the detectives of the Katie Harris rape case. The only problem is Katie Harris identified her rapist ten years ago: Victor Tate. Tate is now serving a 25-year sentence, meaning an innocent man may be rotting in jail. Even more shocking: it was Stabler's case.
Stabler does not believe Victor Tate is innocent and tells Paxton with conviction that Tate used a knife on Katie Harris then raped her. Yet the green fibers that were used in Katie's case are no longer accessible to compare to Rena's case. Kendall believes the rapist has had ten years to adapt and perfect the crime. Angrily, Paxton orders Benson to show Katie new photos in sequential order to see if she identifies Foster.
Fin and Stabler go to Katie Harris's home to show her a combination of different pictures. A scarred Katie looks at the photos and becomes upset. Katie states how she could never forget her rapist. Fin tries to calm Katie down by saying that the SVU precinct has forensic evidence to check out. Upset and haunted by her past, Katie wants to know why Stabler is doing this. Stabler can only say he wouldn't do it unless he had to. After meeting with Katie, Stabler is shaken. Stabler confesses to Fin that an innocent man could be in jail and it may be Stabler's fault.
Benson informs Fin and Stabler of two unreported rape cases 12 years ago that match Rena and Katie's profiles. The two Jane Does were hookers and no one took their cases seriously. Kendall takes Benson and Stabler to interview a pimp, Willie Boots. Willie identifies one woman as deceased and the second woman as having disappeared. When Willie doesn't tell Benson the missing woman's name right away, Kendall physically pushes the pimp. Benson warns Kendall about using force against Willie or anyone else. To excuse his actions, Kendall comes clean to Benson that his ex-wife ran away and his kid ended up dead. Eventually Kendall's wife was killed by a meth dealer. Willie gives Kendall the missing woman's name, Beverly Neal, who is now a court reporter and does not want any part of the case.
The body of a 16-year old girl, Lynn Rivers, emerges at a new crime scene. The victim's throat is cut and there are more green fibers present. Paxton admits how Foster made bail and is back out on the streets. Frustrated with the investigation, Paxton tells the detectives to find something so she can put Foster away. Back at the lab, Warner tells Benson and Stabler that the victim's areolas were cut off after she was murdered; she also had weed and alcohol in her system. Benson interviews the victims' friend, Angela Lupino. Angela tells Benson that Rivers went to buy more beer and never came back.
Fin discovers that the van belongs to Malcolm Foster, Mark Foster's father. This means Foster was using the van to rape women. Benson and Stabler interview Foster's dad. Kendall notices flames and the van outside. Benson and Stabler quickly confront Foster, who is trying to burn the evidence. Foster catches the detectives off guard and douses them with gasoline. Benson keeps her gun on Foster, despite the risk that everyone may be set on fire and blow up if Benson shoots. Kendall holds a gun to Foster and Benson tells Kendall they need Foster alive. Foster, holding up his lighter, inches closer to Benson. Kendall is able to quickly move in and knock Foster out with the butt of the gun and saves the van from exploding. Foster tells Kendall that Kendall should have taken his shot, to which the young detective replies, "There's always tomorrow."
Paxton and Benson sit with Foster for his confession. After Benson reveals the murder weapon found in Foster's van, Foster confesses, stating "stick a fork in me." In a sinister and unremorseful voice, Foster names the two prostitutes, along with Katie Harris, Rena West, and Lynn Rivers. Behind a two-way mirror, Katie listens to Foster's confession with Benson by her side. Foster's confession is detailed and horrific for Katie to hear and she wonders about Victor Tate. Stabler knows he has to get Tate out of jail.
Stabler surprises Tate when he tells him that the justice system made a mistake and that the detectives arrested Katie Harris's rapist today. An emotional Tate angrily tells Stabler how no one believed him ten years ago and how he lost everything. Stabler promises to fix it. Stabler tells Tate they have Foster's confession on tape. Stabler knows he owes a debt to Tate that he can't pay. Stabler promises Tate he will get him out of there as soon as possible. Before Tate walks back in his cell, he asks Stabler, "This really happening?" and with all sincerity, Stabler states, "Believe it." Before Tate goes back to his cell, he shakes Stabler's hand.
Kendall takes Foster away in handcuffs and gives Stabler a break for the day. Rena comes to Benson looking for Kendall, but Benson tells her that he doesn't work the precinct anymore. Benson suggests Rena go to counseling and hands her a card. Dejected, Rena walks away.
After Benson tells Rena to get help, there is a loud crashing noise from the bathroom. Benson and Stabler run in to find Kendall there without Foster and a big hole in the window. Looking down, the detectives see Foster's dead body on the cement. Kendall, disturbed, says Foster just jumped out the window, but Benson thinks maybe Kendall tossed him.
Stabler shrugs Foster's death off his shoulders until Paxton tells Stabler that with Foster dead, there will be no testimony for Tate's innocence. Stabler swears he'll get Tate out of prison. Paxton tells him that Tate is going to have to serve the entire 25-year sentence. Unless Stabler knows the governor, there's not a single thing to be done. Stabler is left speechless.