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Law & Order: Special Victims Unit

Episode 14.08 : Lessons Learned

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TV Info


Episode Premiere

November 21, 2012

Distributor

NBC

Genre

Drama

Show Period

1999 - now

Production Company

NBC, Studios USA Television, Universal Network TV

Cast and Crew


Director

Alex Chapple

Screenwriter

Ed Zuckerman, John P. Roche

Main Cast


Additional Cast

  • Elliot Gould
  • Charles Grodin

Synopsis


It's late in the evening, and the SVU station is in a state of complete chaos. Harold Lassiter, an older man, steps into the SVU station and asks Detective Amaro for assistance. Lassiter says he wants to show Amaro a letter, but Amaro has bigger problems tonight. After a few chaotic minutes, Lassiter leaves the station without speaking to anyone.

It's late in the evening, and the SVU station is in a state of complete chaos. Harold Lassiter, an older man, steps into the SVU station and asks Detective Amaro for assistance. Lassiter says he wants to show Amaro a letter, but Amaro has bigger problems tonight. After a few chaotic minutes, Lassiter leaves the station without speaking to anyone.

Back in the squad room, Amaro gives the other detectives the rundown on Lassiter. He's a retired English professor at a prestigious private school, Manor Hill Academy. Benson and Amaro head to the school while Fin gets in touch with an old friend who attended Manor Hill.

At Manor Hill Academy, Benson and Amaro meet with the school's headmaster to find out more about Lassiter and Curt. The headmaster informs them that Lassiter retired a year before he took over, and that he's shocked to hear about sexual misconduct at the academy. The headmaster tells the detectives that he's happy to help with the investigation.

Fin and Rollins meet with Fin's Manor Hill friend, Damon, who tells them that Lassiter has a reputation for sexual misconduct, but nobody ever reported anything. Damon agrees to get the detectives access to the Manor Hill alumni list so that they can track down Curt.

Benson and Amaro find Curt, who tells them that his new therapist suggested he write a letter to his abuser. The detectives can see immediately that Curt is not a suspect, but Curt says that he's not the only victim of Lassiter's nefarious ways. He agrees to introduce the detectives to his Manor Hill support group.

Benson and Amaro accompany Curt to a meeting with other Manor Hill assault victims. The detectives try to convince the group to help them investigate Manor Hill, but one of the victims, Nathan, is reluctant to help. He walks out of the meeting, but the rest of the victims reveal that other teachers at Manor Hill had a history of assaulting students. This case just got a lot bigger.

Benson and Rollins take their information to Barba in hopes that he might be able to help with a subpoena on Manor Hill. Barba agrees with the detectives' intentions, but he points out that none of the crimes fall within the statute of limitations. Furthermore, three of the four accused professors are either deceased or out of the country. One retired professor, Morton, still lives nearby. The detectives head out for an interview.

Fin and Rollins head over to talk to Professor Morton. Unfortunately, Morton is completely senile at this point, and in no shape to confess to a crime or be taken seriously by any jury. Meanwhile, Amaro gets a visit from another former Manor Hill professor named Tompkins who came in to talk voluntarily. Tompkins confesses to having sexual relationships with three former students, but he assures the detectives that the relationships were mutual, not abusive.

Benson, Amaro and Barba review the details with some of the former Manor Hill students, who all say that they never heard of any allegations against Tompkins. Unfortunately, Barba doesn't have much to work with in this case yet. Benson decides to ask the school for a formal apology, and she wants Barba to accompany her. He reluctantly agrees.

Benson and Amaro meet with Manor Hill's headmaster, the school's attorney and the school's Chief Director, Brett Forrester, who adamantly denies the abuse claims and refuses to offer up an apology, which he sees as an admission of guilt. After being stonewalled in the meeting, Barba is ready to quit. Benson encourages Barba to get tough. That's all he needs.

Rollins and Fin decide to investigate a professor who left Manor Hill to teach at a charter school in Harlem. The principal of the new school informs the detectives that she caught the teacher in a questionable situation with a student and fired him a month after he transferred, despite a glowing letter of recommendation from Manor Hill.

If Forrester and Manor Hill want to play hardball, Barba and the SVU squad are happy to step up to the plate. The detectives decide to invade a Manor Hill fundraising party to deliver subpoenas to a Grand Jury inquiry about the alleged pattern of Manor Hill abuse. Forrester is not happy.

Barba is in his comfort zone at the Grand Jury proceedings. He continuously grills witnesses, Manor Hill employees and even the untouchable Brett Forrester, who denies any knowledge of the alleged sexual assaults. Barba may not have any solid evidence to present to the jury, but he knows that the circumstantial evidence is enough to demonstrate gross negligence on the part of the Manor Hill leadership.

The SVU squad is called away from the Grand Jury questioning when one of their witnesses, Vincent, a man who was abused at Manor Hill, is hospitalized for a drug overdose. The detectives check Vincent's medical records and discover that he was diagnosed with gonorrhea around the time of the alleged abuse. With their witnesses credibility damaged, Barba will have to take a different approach.

Barba brings Tompkins to the witness stand. Tompkins told the detectives earlier that he had romantic affairs with three students at Manor Hill, but that the environment at the school almost welcomed such behavior. This is Barba's key piece of evidence, and he hopes that Tompkins' insights as to the school environment will be enough to sway the Grand Jury's opinion.

After the jury adjourns, Forrester tells the detectives that the school is preparing to release a statement. Later, another witness comes forward claiming abuse at Manor Hill. This time, though, he gives the detectives something to work with: a formal complaint letter sent to the school, which Forrester denied ever receiving. Seeing this as grounds for perjury, the detectives pay another visit to Forrester.

While visiting Forrester, Benson notices a family portrait in his office and recognizes Forrester's son as one of the men she met in the support meeting. Forrester's own son was a victim of sexual abuse while attending Manor Hill. Benson and Amaro decide to pay Forrester's son, Nathan, a visit. Forrester joins them.

During their conversation with Forrester's son, Nathan, he admits to the detectives that he was sexual abused as a student. Forrester is shocked. He never thought the abuse would hit so close to home. After this conversation, Forrester seems to have had a change of heart.

Later, while Forrester is making an official statement for Manor Hill, he breaks down and admits to a legacy of sexual abuse that has been kept within the walls of the prestigious academy. Forrester vows to help the victims and launch a full investigation of those responsible. It's a painful but welcome closure for the victims of the terrible abuse.

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PREMIERE PHOTO

Dann Florek
The Film Set of Law and Order: Special Victims Unit
Dec 22, 2010
Dann Florek
The Film Set of Law and Order: Special Victims Unit
Dec 22, 2010