Law & Order (1990–2010): Season 5, Episode 19 - Law & Order - full transcript

Evidence indicates that the death, in police custody, of an autistic teenager was the result of longstanding abuse. Suspicion falls on the treatment center where he lived and on its therapist, Dr. Colter.

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criminal justice system

the people are represented by two
separate yet equally important groups,

the police who investigate crime

and the district attorneys
who prosecute the offenders.

These are their stories.


KEVIN: Time.

No, no, no, no. The next time your
college friends come to visit, I'm sick.

They used to be
very interesting.

So was Donovan.

Good morning,
how are you? Great.

What time is it?


No, no, no, no, no, it's 10:18.

Fine. 10:18.

(GASPS) What time...

Get your hands off me! Michael!


KEVIN: Time, time, time...

You having a problem here? Yeah,
there's something wrong with him.

He tried to steal
my husband's watch.

KEVIN: Time... Hey, pally,
how you doing today, huh?

What time? Time.

Time for you to take a ride.

The time. Time. Time...



Hey, you going to
Hanratty's later? Got a date.

At midnight? You call
that a date, Lennie?

The later it gets,
the better they look.

KEVIN: Time. Have a seat.

Hey, what's with that kid?

A John Doe pipehead, attempted
theft of somebody else's marbles.

He's waiting on
a limo to Bellevue.

Hey, you leaving me with him?



Whoa, whoa,
whoa, kid, cut it out.


Lennie, hold my piece.

You, be cool. I'm cool.

Hey, hey! Hey!

(GRUNTS) Whoa!

LOGAN: Hey! Somebody
help me here, man!


LOGAN: I got it. I got it.


I don't know, Mike. I
think the kid's dead.

Do I need a union rep or...

You can have one
if you want one.

Yeah, and I can touch my
knee with my elbow if I want to,

but that's not what I'm asking.

Attitude's not gonna
help anyone, Detective.

We need to know what happened to that kid
before his family shows up waving lawyers.

The kid was stoned, and he went
crazy, and I had to restrain him.

Did you use a choke hold?

No way.

Well, how'd you hold him, then?

I don't know, around the chest.

Things were moving very
fast. I did what I had to do.

Did you see anyone
else touch him?


He was hitting himself
in the head, okay?

Hard enough to kill himself?

It's a fair question. I've seen the
way you get a suspect's attention.

Now, wait a second, Lennie was
right there. He saw the whole thing.

This so-called kid was beyond
strong. I was just trying to hold onto him.

The next second he's dead.
You try to make sense out of that.

Made sense to IAD. They're
dusting off the hot seat for him.

Well, I'm keeping an open mind.

You're keeping an open mind?

Then how come you got me driving
a desk for the next couple of days?

I took you off rotation until
it plays out. End of story.

Don't sweat it, Mike.

John Doe died from
a cerebral thrombosis.

A blood clot broke.
He stroked out.

People die of
strokes in their sleep.

They don't get blood clots
like this without a little help.

There's evidence of repeated
trauma to the left carotid artery

here on the neck.

Repeated, as in over a
period of time? Correct.

This boy was damaged goods
long before the PD got a hold of him.

There's bruises all over
his body, some a day old,

some have been there a
week or more. Look at this.

These calluses on the wrists
and ankles. Kid's been tied down.

Somebody's been using him
for entertainment purposes?

There's no evidence
of sexual trauma.

I'll give him a closer look
before I send up the final report.

Well, sounds like Mike
can climb off the hook.

Yeah, maybe we can find
somebody else to hang there instead.

Hey. What's the good word?

IAD finally got it
straightened out.

Yeah, it was a blood-clot thing.
The kid came up negative for drugs.

No kidding? What
was his problem?

I don't know. There was
too much sugar in his diet?

His prints came up negative.

All we know about him was
he had a thing about watches.

Is this his stuff? Yeah.

Watch out for lice.


No lice. Lots of lint.
Kid was traveling light.

Yeah, lint here, too. Couple
of Raisinets. Couple of pennies.

From the Midtown
Cinema. Last night.

Doesn't look too good.

He wasn't feeling too well when we took
the picture. Did you see him last night?

Oh, yeah, ticket costs
$3. He paid in 300 pennies.

What're you after him
for, robbing a piggy bank?

Actually, he's dead, and we're
trying to find out who killed him.

Killed? He was alive when he
left here, kicking and screaming.

What time would that be?

Movie started at 10:00.
He was out of here by 10:10.

Got out of his seat,
walked into the screen.

Must have been some movie.

Stinks. Kid was a wacko.

We threw him out. How
hard did you throw him?

We never laid a hand on him. He
saw us coming. He ran out the back.

He left his coat
behind. You want it?

Yeah, sure.


There you go.

Coat looks new. Mmm-hmm.

Amtrak schedule,

Greyhound schedule,
Staten Island ferry schedule.

You starting to
see a pattern here?

Weird kid. Showered,
shaved, clean clothes.

Yeah, not your
run-of-the-mill street wacko.

It looks like somebody
was taking care of him.

Yeah, maybe somebody
filed a missing persons.

We called the police this morning, soon
as the clinic told us that Kevin ran away.

He's done this before.

Things were getting better
for him. It's been so hard.

Better for him? What
was wrong with him?

Kevin was autistic.

He didn't speak at
all till he was eight.

How long will he have
to stay in that morgue?

Just a day or two, Mrs. Jeffries,
until we can start the investigation.

What investigation?


Your son had bruises
all over him, Mr. Jeffries,

and an injury to his neck that caused
a blood clot. That's what he died from.

Somebody beat him up?

That's what we're
trying to find out.

You said he was
living at a clinic?

The Behavioral Control
Clinic for the last three years.

LOGAN: I bet he kept
running away from there.

Well, there's something
you don't understand here.

You see, when Kevin was
10, he started to hurt himself.

He would bite himself. He would
bang his head into walls. He...

It would go in cycles. Every
six months, then more often.

By the time he was 13,
it would last for weeks.

We didn't know what to
do. It's been hard on all of us.

We couldn't keep Kevin here.
We had to send him away.

GEORGE: Two institutions
sent him back to us.

Well, just what was the
behavioral clinic doing for him?

They helped him to stop
him from hurting himself.

ELEANOR: Dr. Colter.
He runs the clinic.

Thanks to him, Kevin
was learning to draw.

We noticed he was
missing yesterday morning.

We thought he
might've gone home.

That's why we
called his parents first.

So, what did he do?
He just walked out?

Pretty much. He
went out a fire exit.

We'd like to talk
to his roommate.

David Vilardi.

He's non-verbal.
Anyway, he slept through it.

What's this for, Dr. Colter?
It's all covered with cracks.

Kevin wore that when he became
self-injurious, hitting himself.

It's pretty common with
some autistic children.

DR. COLTER: It's frustration because
of their inability to communicate.

That's why Kevin was here. So
we could modify that behavior.


Well, no disrespect to you,
Doctor, but the way that sounds,

it's making my skin crawl.

There's nothing
sinister about it.

Granted, sometimes we
have to restrain the child

until the self-injurious
cycle passes.

Did Kevin get
restrained a lot lately?

Not as often as before.


Well, maybe you
can explain this to me.

This is what Kevin looked
like when we found him.

You see those bruises
and the marks on his neck?

Well, you're a doctor. Maybe
you can tell me how they got there.

Like I said, Kevin
was self-injurious.

ALONSO: We put them in a chair or on their
stomach on a padded board, right here.

Put it down. Put it down.

Then we hold them
there using soft cuffs.

Well, we found calluses
on his wrists and ankles.

Well, that's how we strap
them in, plus across the chest.

It's for their own protection.

What about the neck?

You got to be kidding me. No.

Well, if he had calluses, he must
have been strapped in for quite a while.

He was in a bad
cycle the past week.

We put him in restraints
about four hours every day.

The day he ran away, he
was on the board till about 6:00.

Then he was fine.

Did he mind being strapped in?

Well, he minded. Way it works is we
get four people to grab his legs and arms,

and we lay him out.


So, if he throws a punch, maybe one of
you thinks you have to throw a couple back.

Kevin didn't need anybody's
help to injure himself.

You want to see what a good
day is for some of these kids?


Bad days, they don't stop.

It's a tough call. Kevin Jeffries
could've done it all to himself.

He punched himself in the
carotid artery till he got a blood clot?

Hey, he threw himself against
walls. He bounced off the ceiling.

I mean, it all could've
been self-inflicted.

Then, how do we explain
this? The ME's final report.

She found circular
wounds and muscle damage

consistent with electric shocks.

How many people
electrocute themselves?

I'm very proud of what we
do here and how we do it.

We believe in rewards,
positive reinforcement.

But if they get out of line, someone
zaps them with a few volts, right?

Our medical examiner found evidence that
Kevin Jeffries was getting electric shocks.

Yes. It's part of the overall
aversion therapy program.

Aversion? What
happened to the carrot?

All we do is use mild punishment
to stop the self-injurious behavior.

Rewards for good behavior,
mild punishment for bad.

Usually we spray their mouths
with pepper juice, or pinch them.

What about the electric shocks?

That's only for the
tough cases. I'll show you.

Most clinics who
work with autistic

children use drugs to
sedate their patients.

I don't believe in drugs.

We substitute this.

We apply this to the
patient's arm or leg.

It's controlled by this device.

If the child starts to harm
himself, we give him a small shock.

I'd be happy to demonstrate.

Yeah, try it on me. That's fine.

Roll up your sleeve, please.

This ought to be fun.

Right there. Ready?



That's all there
is to it. That's all?

I'd rather get my teeth
drilled. You call that therapy?

Yes. So does the
State of New York.


Dr. Colter's aversion
therapy isn't revolutionary.

A lot of programs are based
on behavior modification.

They use electrodes, too?

No. Just Dr. Colter.

He's the only one who
takes the tough cases.

The kids other
institutions don't want.

You actually believe
his zap therapy works?

If we didn't, we wouldn't
be subsidizing him.

$175,000 a year per patient.
Currently he has 83 patients.

That makes for
a fat bottom line.

When's the last time somebody checked
to see what he does with the money?

We do periodic reviews.

LOGAN: What about the
zappers? Do you review them?

Yes. Dr. Colter's applied
four times in the past six years

to increase the
voltage on the devices.

Apparently the patients were
becoming immune to the shocks.

Well, that tells me
it wasn't working.

Our board of reviewers checked
the patients' files. They saw progress.

Look, we monitor this
therapy very closely.

It's approved on a case-by-case
basis and only with the parents' consent.

I can't imagine any parents

letting their kid get electrical
shocks all over his body.

The electrodes can only be used on
the forearm or the thigh. Nowhere else.

And no more than four shocks can be
administered during a one-hour period.

Well, then, we have a problem
because according to our ME,

Kevin Jeffries had shock marks all
over his chest and all over his back.

Of course we knew about the punishments.
That's why we sent Kevin to Dr. Colter.

We didn't want him doped up
and warehoused in some hospital.

Yeah, well, did Colter tell you
about these electric shocks?

Yes. I don't see what
the problem is here.

I thought Kevin's
injuries were self-inflicted.

We checked with the State agency.
Dr. Colter was using electrodes on your son

in ways that he
wasn't supposed to.

There's got to be a mistake. He
told us Kevin was almost cured.

He said he was hardly
using the electrodes anymore.

Well, that's not the
way it looks, Mr. Jeffries.

Quite a cure. That kid was still trying to
punch himself when he died in my arms.

Well, the ME said the boy was
bruised and the shock marks were recent.

Doesn't exactly jibe with
Dr. Colter's bill of goods.

I'll tell you what it
jibes with. Abuse.

The kid was being tortured
with a couple of AA batteries.

For what, thrills?

What about those
$175,000 subsidies?

I, for one, think Colter
was conning the State

into thinking his clinic
was helping those kids.

Do we know for a fact it wasn't?

If you thought your kid was
being abused, what would you do?

This is America.
I'd sue the bastard.

Maybe someone did.

Cathy now attends
the Lynchburg Institute.

It's only an hour's drive, so
we can see her every weekend.

She's a beautiful
girl, Mrs. Davidson.

She'll be 14 next week.

We're having a party
here at the house.

The progress she's made at
Lynchburg is nothing short of a miracle.

Well, do they know
something that Colter doesn't?

Oh, and then some.

At the behavioral clinic, they sprayed her
with pepper juice. They used electrodes.

But at Lynchburg, they're
given positive reinforcement.

They're taught
relaxation techniques.

Did Colter have your
consent to use electrodes?

Yes, he did. He gave us a
demonstration. It seemed harmless.

You have got to understand that
my husband and I were desperate.

Well, why did you sue him?

Because there is a
line, and Colter crossed it

when he put Cathy in that
medieval torture helmet.

A helmet? Well, we saw kids with
hockey helmets to protect their heads.

No, there's another one.
They call it the buzzbox.

SERENA: It works
on sensory deprivation.

The child can't see anything.

There's a buzzer inside the
box that makes a white noise,

and so the child
can't hear anything.

It's supposed to calm them down.

He kept Cathy in this
helmet for three straight days.

She had bruises on
her neck right here.

She passed out while
she was wearing it.

We only found out because
Cathy happened to tell us.

That's when we sued.

Let me guess. Colter
made a quick settlement?

No, he settled, all right, as soon
as we proved that this helmet

cut off the blood supply
to our daughter's brain.

Is he still using that?

No, we made sure
that he wouldn't.

We got the State to ban
the use of this helmet.

Nice piece of equipment.

Something out of the
Marquis de Sade's catalogue?

Apparently Dr. Colter
cooked this one up in his lab.

Could it have caused the
blood clot on Kevin Jeffries?

Well, the helmet comes almost
all the way down the neck.

The repetitive carotid
damage occurred here,

five centimeters
below the left ear.

Same place the Davidson
girl had the bruises.

So it's possible that
could've killed him?

Yes, I'd say it's
the probable cause.

Bring me the helmet,
and I'll tell you for sure.



Come on. Lights on, nobody home?

Here we go.

What do you want?

Office hours are 8:30 to
5:30. Come back tomorrow.

Police! Warrant.
Get it? Open up!

Look, I'm not supposed
to let anyone in or out.

Dr. Colter's very
strict about the rules.

I bet. Where is he?

He's not back in until
10:00 in the morning.

Sorry. Go back to sleep.

Look, if you tell me what you're
looking for, maybe I can help you out.

This is what we're looking
for. They call it a buzzbox.

We don't use those anymore.

What's in here?

It's a treatment room.

Open it. Open it.


What the hell is
this? Who are you?

Shut up! Let's get
him off of this thing.

Detective Briscoe, we didn't
find any buzzbox helmets.

Oh, great. No helmets, no case.

What about this?

The kid's rigged
up for electrocution.

It's assault. Arrest him.

What's your name? Joe Garvey.

Joe Garvey, you're
under arrest for assault.

You have the right to remain silent.
Anything you say, can and will be used

against you in a court of
law. You understand that?

Come on. You have
the right to an attorney...

You've got the wrong idea,
Mr. McCoy. Joe was just doing his job.

"I was just following orders."

Where have I heard that before?

Joe's a comp lit major at NYU.

Two weeks ago he takes a
night job to pay some bills.

The men in the white coats
tell him what to do. He does it.

I just want to be very
clear here, Mr. Garvey.

Was Dr. Colter aware of what
was going on at the clinic at night?

Oh, not so fast.

Joe doesn't even have a parking
ticket. I want to keep it that way.

Let's hear what he has to say.

Colter's the one who
strapped him in before he left.

He put the electrodes on
the boy's chest and back?

Yeah. He told me to
shock him every 10 minutes.

He told me it was all part
of the aversion therapy.

I didn't wanna hurt him.

Did you ever put a helmet like this one
on Kevin Jeffries or any of the other kids?

No. No, I've never
seen anything like it.

Before I arrest
Colter for assault,

I need to know I'm not
stepping onto a half-frozen lake.

Can he legitimately claim
what he's doing is therapy?

Twenty years ago he could've.

Aversion therapy was the hot new
thing to treat alcoholics and drug addicts.

But it's a quick fix.
It doesn't really work.

Well, apparently he's
convinced the State that it does.

That's because he can show
them short-term improvements.

The problem is the patients
develop a tolerance for the pain,

and the old behavior comes back.

That's why he had to use
more powerful electrodes.

More pain to achieve
the same results.

Have you read his résumé?

Degrees and kudos
by the bucketful.

Colter's post-doctoral
thesis on aversion was called

"a quantum leap in
the treatment of autism."


He has more than his
pocketbook riding on this.

A true believer. That just
makes him more frightening.

Have the police pick him up.

Assault? Next you'll arrest my
allergist for injecting me twice a month.

If he put you in four-point restraints
and shocked you every 10 minutes,

I'd consider it.

It's part of the therapy.

It's all State sanctioned.

They didn't sanction what
we found at your clinic.

This boy was given shocks
every 10 minutes on his torso

with electrodes 20 times more
powerful than the industry norm.

They're closer to cattle prods
than anything used on humans.

You thumbed your
nose at State guidelines,

and one boy may very
well be dead as a result.

That's nonsense. I'm down in the
trenches every day with those children,

and some bureaucrat
in Albany... Alan.

You know better? Is that it?

Is that why you
continue to use this?

Of course not. What
are you talking about?

We found marks on
Kevin Jeffries' neck,

the same marks that Cathy
Davidson got from wearing that helmet.

Kevin gave himself those
injuries. He was out of control.

You told his parents
he was practically cured.

They misunderstood me.

Doctor, I don't know if you're a
sadist or a conman or a fanatic.

Whatever your motives,
your actions are criminal,

not to mention indefensible.

You say they're criminal. We
say they're legitimate therapy.

Tomorrow we'll find out
what a judge calls them.

Motion to dismiss.

called B.F. Skinner a genius.

Dr. Colter's aversion therapy
program is merely an extension

of Skinner's stimulus
response theories.

Skinner worked with pigeons.
Dr. Colter was torturing human beings.

Medical treatment
is often painful.

Cancer patients receive
chemo. I don't see Mr. McCoy

parading through Sloan-Kettering
with an arrest warrant.

Wait a minute.

Chemotherapy is a far cry from
assaulting someone with electrodes.

Think about it. It's only assault
if the patient doesn't consent

or if Dr. Colter
intended to hurt them.

Or he was reckless.

These children have
shown marked improvement.

Now, how reckless can he be?

He's got a point, Mr. McCoy.

JACK: The People don't concede there
have been long-lasting improvements.

Regardless, Dr. Colter
broke every State regulation.

He crossed the line
between therapy and abuse.

Your Honor, the only issue here

is whether Dr. Colter received
parental consent for his therapy.

Informed consent.

Well, then, let's
ask the parents

whether they know
what they consented to?

It's a good idea.

I'll hear from them
in the morning.

NANCY: Nobody,
no State hospital,

no doctor would have
anything to do with Robbie.

Dr. Colter was the only
one who would take him.

He showed us how
the electrodes worked.

It was very difficult
watching Robbie in pain.

But it only lasted a couple of seconds,
and then Robbie would calm down.

Did he explain how often the
shocks would have to be administered?


He said sometimes as
often as every 10 minutes.

Were you aware that
violated the State guidelines?


But if it worked, I didn't care.

Three years ago
the experts told us

our son didn't belong
in the education system.

One principal even
called him "subhuman."

Now Robbie works at a
computer, thanks to Dr. Colter.

GOLDEN: It's not like
anything you've ever seen.

Kids pulling their
hair out, their teeth.

You give my kid a pencil, he's gonna
jab it into his cheek, for crying out loud.

Did Dr. Colter tell you his therapy
went beyond what the State allowed

in frequency and intensity?

What do they know?

Is it better my kid become a
drugged-out blob with open wounds?

They got some chutzpah
telling me what to do with my kid.

I'm his legal guardian. I should be the
one who decides what happens to him.

Thank you for
coming in, Mr. Golden.

Seems to me these parents went
into this with their eyes wide open.

If the parents are satisfied with
Dr. Colter's work, then so am I.

The People are not, Your Honor.

The defendant made
unauthorized use of this therapy

in violation of
State guidelines.

Which justifies an administrative
hearing, not a criminal trial.

Now, the indictment
for assault is quashed.

What do you expect?
These are the '90s.

People don't want the State
telling them how to raise their kids.

He's convinced these parents he's
right, that his therapy actually works.

It didn't work for
Kevin Jeffries.

The Jeffries kid, yeah.

The parents might've
consented to Colter's therapy,

but they can't
consent to murder.

There's no murder
without the helmet.

My bet is Colter took
a sledgehammer to it

the minute Kevin
Jeffries' death hit the news.

Jack, I may have
found something.

That's the Davidsons' initial complaint
in the suit about the buzzbox helmet.

There are 13 named defendants.

That's civil litigation. You
name everyone in sight.

Yeah, that's right, but take a
look at the amended complaint.

There are only 12
named defendants.

An occupational therapist,
Josh Bingham, was dropped.

It could be because he had testimony
that would bolster the plaintiff's case.


All right, then, all
right. Don't push off.

I graduated from Columbia
with a degree in psych.

That job was a nightmare.

I work for three months,
then get named in a lawsuit.

You settled with
the Davidsons early?

Are you kidding?

I agreed to testify for them.

I wrote a 23-page affidavit about
what was going on at that clinic.

Let me tell you. Colter?
He'd make Dr. Mengele proud.

You saw what was going on,
but you continued to work there?

Well, the first time I saw
him use that buzzbox,

I went right down to Colter's office.
He read me this long laundry list

of his success stories,
told me I'd get used to it.

I went right back down to my office,
started looking at the "help wanted" ads.

Let me tell you, it's a good thing for
those kids that the Davidsons came along.

Do you think Colter's still
using the buzzbox helmet?

What, and risk getting
hit with another lawsuit?

Actually, we think it killed one
of his patients, Kevin Jeffries.

That's what we'd like to prove.

Maybe I know someone
who can help you.

Francine Randazzo. One
of the therapy assistants.

She stayed on at the clinic
after the Davidson thing.

Why would she talk to us now?

She called me a couple of
weeks ago looking for work.

She got laid off
from the clinic.

After the Davidson lawsuit,
they used the helmet less.

Only in extreme cases. We weren't
supposed to even talk about it.

Ms. Randazzo, were
you still working there

when Kevin Jeffries was
undergoing treatment?

Yes. It broke my heart.

He'd be like you and me for a couple
of days, and then he'd totally freak out.

He'd start slamming
his head against the wall.

When he started doing this, did
Dr. Colter use the buzzbox helmet on him?


Sometimes he'd strap Kevin in a
chair for three or four days at a time.

With the helmet?

That's right.

I couldn't even look at him.

He'd only let him out to go to
the bathroom and take a shower.

Excuse me! Dr. Colter
is with a patient!

Then, we're just in time.

WOMAN: You can't go in there!

Come on, come on, hold him.
What's going on? This is private.

Not any more, it's not. Alan
Colter, you're under arrest

for the murder of Kevin Jeffries.
You have the right to remain silent.

Anything you do
say, can and will...

And this is your
reliable witness?

Oh, I'm sure Ms. Randazzo

is just dying to throw bouquets
at the employer who laid her off.

Dr. Colter gave her a
job for the last two years.

He must think she's reliable.

What, and after three
weeks of job interviews,

she suddenly finds
his methods abhorrent?

She had the chance to
speak up months ago.

Anything she says now is gonna smell
a little ripe to a jury, don't you think?

Not if it confirms what they
hear from the medical examiner.

We no longer use the
deprivation helmet. Period.

Misguided as the State's
decision was, we went along with it.

It's statements like that, Dr. Colter,
that make me wonder if you did.

don't take his word for it.

We have an
eyewitness who'll testify

that the helmet was never
used on Kevin Jeffries.

His roommate, David Vilardi.

An autistic child?

We're not talking about a
potted plant, Mr. McCoy.

According to this report,
Kevin's roommate is mute.

He can still communicate
with the help of a facilitator.

That's all fine and good, but
how could he possibly know

what you did to Kevin Jeffries?

They were roommates

in a very small institution.

How long do you think something
like this could've been kept secret?

Now, Mrs. Vilardi is going
to stabilize David's hand

so that he can point accurately, but
she's not going to guide his answers.

Mrs. Vilardi.

Ask my son anything
you want, Mr. McCoy.

David, do you know
why you're here today?


Did you ever see
Kevin wearing a helmet?





You mean the white hockey
helmet he wore for protection?


Did you ever see him wearing
any other kind of helmet?


"just the white


Did he ever tell you that Dr. Colter
made him wear another kind of helmet?


Did he ever mention
something called the buzzbox?


Are you absolutely sure
he never mentioned it?


"Kevin only wore

"the white helmet,

"not the red."

I've read David's file. He's
been non-verbal all his life.

His IQ was measured at 30.

There's no record he's ever
been taught to read or write.

All of a sudden he's
typing on a computer.

Pretty neat trick.

DR. OLIVET: There's
an even better trick.

David's IQ was retested
after he started communicating,

and he scored
between 100 and 130.

Which probably coincides
with his mother's IQ.

She was holding his hands.
She was guiding his responses.

Well, you don't think this
facilitated communication is for real.

It's been around since the mid-'70s,
and it's still taught at universities,

but by and large the scientific
community does not support it.

That's the bottom line.
I'll move for a hearing.

If the technique isn't generally accepted,
David's not qualified to be a witness.

JACK: Frye v. US is
very clear, Your Honor.

Until a scientific technique
gains general acceptance,

it can't be used in evidence.

General acceptance by whom?

Neurologists? Speech pathologists?
Special education teachers?

These people can't even
agree on what causes autism.

Two courts have already agreed
that facilitated communication

doesn't meet the standard
for scientific evidence.

So, a couple of family
court judges were guided

by their prejudice
against the disabled.

Mr. Rothenberg.

That's what it boils
down to, Your Honor.

People with disabilities are being denied
their opportunity to be heard in court.

I just want to be sure the voice
being heard is David Vilardi's.

Mr. McCoy, making that
determination is why I wear the robe.

I've heard the legal arguments.
Now I'd like to hear from some experts

who know what
they're talking about.

And I'd also like to
hear from David himself.

I've worked with autistic
children for the past 20 years.

I've read all the studies done
on facilitated communication,

and I've seen it
used in the field.

I haven't seen anything I
consider sufficient to say it's valid.

You don't think it
works, Dr. Chaikin?

There's no proof of its
reliability with autistic children.

In my opinion, the messages
reflect the facilitator's coaching.

Are you saying that
there's deception involved?

More like wishful thinking.

For parents, there's nothing better in
the world than to have your child say,

"I love you," and
have a true sense of it.

Autistic children can't do that.

So, when something comes along
that promises meaningful communication,

parents and people who work
with autistic children believe in it.

Thank you. No more questions.

Dr. Chaikin, does
facilitated communication

have its proponents?

Yes. So do Ouija boards.

Do you know of any
university-affiliated institutions

dedicated to the
study of Ouija boards?

No, I don't. And
are you familiar

with the Facilitated Communication
Institute at Syracuse University?

Yes, I am.

No more questions.

I've seen the technique used
successfully with the autistic,

with people with Down
syndrome, with cerebral palsy.

And do you consider the technique
generally accepted by people in your field?

It is gaining wider acceptance
with teachers and parents.

It's being used in the schools.

Thousands of people have
been trained as facilitators.

It's not the holy grail of
autism, but it's very important.

Thank you.

Dr. Gerard, are there empirical
studies validating this technique

that you're aware of?


It's not like the law of gravity.
It can't be proven that way.

Are there established procedures
for monitoring facilitators?

None that are
generally accepted.

Is it fair to say this
technique is experimental?

Well, the research
isn't complete yet.

Thank you. No more questions.

MRS. VILARDI: The first
word David typed was "water."

He was thirsty.

That was five months ago, when
David first started living at the clinic.

Since then we have
regular conversations.

I found out my son has a sense of
humor. He likes girls. He writes poetry.

He loves his family.

After all these years,
I found my child.

Thank you. No more questions.

Mrs. Vilardi,

I'd like to show
something to David.

Go right ahead.

If you don't mind, would
you look the other way?

Your Honor?

Mrs. Vilardi, do
as Mr. McCoy asks.

David, please look at the card.

You can turn
around, Mrs. Vilardi.

David, please tell us what's
on the card I just showed you.

Did he get it right?

No. I'm sorry.

No more questions. He's just
nervous. Let him see it again.

Mr. McCoy, show the witness
the card one more time, please.

RIVERA: Mrs. Vilardi.

David, look at the card.

David, tell us
what's on the card.

RIVERA: All right, Mrs.
Vilardi, you're excused.

MRS. VILARDI: This isn't fair.

David just doesn't
understand what you want.

Mrs. Vilardi, please.

You're not being fair!

Dr. Colter, please explain to them
they're not giving him a chance.

Mrs. Vilardi, please.

You're excused.

We just got a judge to tell Mrs.
Vilardi that she's been talking to herself

for the last five months.

That doesn't exactly make
me want to jump up and cheer.

Just a minute. We didn't drag this boy into
the spotlight. Our good doctor did that.

Placing his interests
ahead of his patients'.

I don't think his patients
even figured in the equation.

None of which put us any closer to proving
he used the helmet on Kevin Jeffries.

Anyone confirmed Ms.
Randazzo's testimony?

We re-interviewed the employees.
They all say they didn't know.

Maybe somebody already
told us what we need.

David Vilardi entered
the clinic five months ago,

after the State had already
banned the use of the helmet.

We can assume neither he
nor his mother ever saw it.

That's what they said
in their deposition.

They also said that Kevin
never wore the red helmet.

How would they
know what color it is?

Ask them.

Three people saw it on
the television monitor.

We heard you say it.

Maybe one of the other
kids told him it was red.

Mrs. Vilardi, I don't wanna put
your son through another ordeal.

Maybe I told him.
I can't remember.

How did you know?

Have you seen the helmet?

I saw a picture of it.


You've seen it
used, haven't you?

I can compel your
answer, Mrs. Vilardi.

Yes, I've seen it.

On Kevin Jeffries?

They use it on your son.

It works, Mr. McCoy.

A boy died because
he was forced to wear it.

My David is alive.

More alive than he's ever been.

Whatever harm that helmet might do, it's
not as bad as what David did to himself.

He broke his fingers
biting into them.

He spent weeks screaming and
throwing himself on the ground.

Now he tells me he loves me.

I'll put her on
the stand, Doctor.

She'll corroborate Francine
Randazzo's testimony.

be a little slow this morning,

but I didn't hear you say that she
saw Kevin Jeffries wear the helmet.

Your client authorized
its continued use.

Which makes him criminally liable
for any death that occurs as a result.

JACK: I don't need direct
evidence to convict him.

He pleads nolo to man
two. He pays a fine.

He does community service.

He pleads guilty to man two. He
serves two years. He turns in his license.

He closes the clinic.

You want to put me
out of business, huh?

We understand
each other perfectly.

You may not like my
methods, but they get results.

You beat a dog often
enough, it'll stop barking.

It might even do tricks for you,
but I wouldn't call that humane.

Don't you dare lecture
me on what's humane.

I've seen the way people react
to my patients. They're repulsed.

These children are what
nightmares are made of.

But I don't look away. I make
something of their broken lives.

You made sure Kevin
Jeffries's life could never be fixed.

Can you really tell
me he's not better off?

I hope that's not your
closing statement to the jury.

You'll never convince
them he murdered that boy.

Watch me.

When I tell them how much money he
made torturing these kids with electrodes,

that he nearly killed
the Davidson girl,

he'll be lucky if they don't
string him up in the courtroom.

The court is satisfied that the
defendant has met the conditions

of the plea agreement.

In accordance
with that agreement,

this court sentences Alan Colter
to a term of not less than two years

and not more than six years

at a facility to be determined
by the Department of Correction.

And this court is adjourned.

He still has them convinced
he was saving their children.

The only thing he tried
to save was his reputation.

He knew the therapy
wasn't getting results.

Instead of admitting he was
wrong, he just turned up the voltage.


You made them
close the clinic. Why?

Mrs. Vilardi... They
sent him home.

I can't take care of him. I don't
know what I'm going to do with him.

You took away the
only place he had.

Do you want him, Mr. McCoy?

Can he go home with you now?

I didn't think so.