Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (1999–…): Season 13, Episode 6 - True Believers - full transcript

A.D.A. Cutter tries to prosecute an African American drug dealer who raped a 19 year old music student, but his opposing counsel is a high-priced attorney who is devoted to protecting the civil rights of accused minorities.

In the criminal justice system,

sexually based offenses are
considered especially heinous.

In New York City,
the dedicated detectives

who investigate
these vicious felonies

are members of an elite squad

known as
the special victims unit.

These are their stories.

- $2.78 change.
- Gracias.

Have a nice day.

- Thank you.
- You're welcome.

Hold the door?

- Good catch.
- No problem.

You look happy.

Sure, why not?


Don't scream.



I'm Sarah.

Can I get you
something to drink?

You got a beer?

I think so.

Oh, that's my boyfriend.

- He might be coming over--
- Leave it.

Go on.

You a musician?

Yes, I could play
something for you.

I have a test later.
I should--



I only have
a few dollars of cash,

but we could go
to an ATM--

I don't need
your money.

Please don't
kill me.

What do you want?

Take off
your clothes.

In there.


But you don't need
your gun.

I will do anything
that you want me to.

Take off
your clothes.

Lay down.



What time was that?

Um, around 1:00.

This morning?

Uh, yesterday afternoon.

Oh, okay.

Can you tell me why
you waited so long to report?

I had a jury
at 4:00.

It's like a recital
that gets graded.

And if I didn't go,
I'd get--

I didn't yell.

I didn't
fight back.

I mean,
I didn't know if--

Sarah, you said
that he had a gun.

It was rape.

You're alive.

You did what
you had to do.

Sync by Adriano_CSI, corrections by Alex1969

She's just a kid.
What happened?

Sophomore at Manhattan Academy
Of Music.

She was raped at gunpoint
in her apartment yesterday.

Was there any outcry?

She showered right after
and went to a piano recital.

And you're the only person
she's told?

Great. You and Amaro
can take her for a rape kit.

Well, actually, I'm still
getting her to trust me.

Okay, keep it small.

I'll send Rollins and Fin
to the apartment with CSU.

Think you can get
his DNA?

He used a condom
and flushed it.

Good luck.

Almost done.

Next, I'll use
a special instrument

that can take photos
of any trauma.

Now, Sarah, you said
that you gave him a beer?

It's on my coffee table.

I haven't moved it.
It's in a plastic cup.

I thought that
that might be better for DNA.

Actually, the bottle
would've been better.

I'll remember that
for next time.

I'm sorry.
I-I wasn't thinking.

Yeah, it's fine.

Hi, Sarah?

I'm Jen, your
crisis counselor.

Whoa, you can't
just barge in here.

- I'm here to help.
- Can you move toward me?

I'm sorry, but you're
gonna feel a little pressure.


Grab that cup
off the table.

Let's go ahead and cut
a sample from the mattress.

- This is the last tube.
- You're doing great, Sarah.

Sarah, as your advocate,

I wanna make you aware that

one of your options
is to not file charges--

- Excuse me?
- You showered.

There's a lack
of obvious physical violence.

Those cases can be
difficult to prosecute.

They also give you
a voice to say

that this is not okay
and to demand justice.

Prosecution is
emotionally grueling--

Jen, can I talk to you
for a second outside?

Thank you.

What are you doing?

It's my job to ensure

the survivor knows everything
about this process.

I don't sugarcoat.

And you've been a counselor
for how long?

Yeah, you've been doing
this longer.

But I have
fresher eyes.

The reality is the system
doesn't always work.

I understand that, but
that girl has just been robbed

of all her power
and all her humanity.

And your best advice is

pretend it never happened
and walk away?

That's not--I meant--

It doesn't matter.

Jen says to call her
if you want.

Thank you.

These reduce your risk
of STDs and HIV.

This will prevent pregnancy.

Your choice.

I'll be right back.

Hepatitis B shots.

You okay?

Sarah, you're not alone.

I will be here

every step of the way.

They don't clean up
when they're done?


Sarah, is there anyplace else
that you might be able to stay?

Your parents or...

No, not a good idea.

They were against me
moving out of the dorms,

especially into
this neighborhood.


This is a huge burden to bear,
in my experience.

In your experience?

Until you've been raped,

you don't get--

I'm sorry.

I-I'm on edge.

I need some time.

Look, you have my number.

Call me?



Call me.


I'll be fine.

Low-grade image.
And the time code's all wonky.

Look for twos.
White girl, black guy.

She's carrying groceries.

There, that's her.
Slow it down.

Seems like he's been
on that elevator before.

He knows where the camera is.

They're almost friendly.

She said
she's never seen him before.

That's why I hate elevators,
you know?

No--no girl's gonna smile
at some stranger

who tries to get
into her car.

All right,
get a screen grab.

Start sweeping
the neighborhood.


You there?
It's me.

Hey, babe.

Y-you still up
for celebrating?

Not a good time.

Rain check?

What's going on?

Um... uh...
uh, bedbugs.

The exterminator
was just... here.

I would offer to help,

I know.

It's--it's okay.
I get it.


Maybe. Yeah.


You, up against the wall.

- What?
- You!

Shut up. Do what she says.
You know the drill.

Is he your protection?

Turn around.

Come on, man.
Like, seriously, bro?

Yeah, seriously.
Why don't y'all grab some too?

Here you go,

God, I'm sorry.

No problem.

It's okay.

He was
just outside,

hanging out,
and he smiled at me.

He headed north
how long ago?

Five minutes?

Jefferson projects
are just up Amsterdam.

Look, Sarah,
keep your eyes open.

- There, that's him!
- You sure?

I think so.

Yo, my man!

- Hey. Conversation w-Hey, hey!
- Stay in the car.

Whoa, stop!




Hey! What are you doing?

- Get down!
- Get off me!

- Get off him!

What was that?
Was that a gun?

- Leave my boy alone!
- Don't move!

You can't come up
in here!

- Shut up.
- Back up.

Get out
of my house!

I said, shut up!

This is my baby!
Don't hurt him!

Everyone shut up!
Now step back. Now.

All this
for some weed?

It's not even
a felony amount!

That weed's the least
of your problems.

Don't take him!
He didn't do nothing!

I'm going to
drive by,

you tell me if you see
the man that raped you.

That's him.

- Are you sure?
- Absolutely.

All right,
take the son of a bitch in.

Copy that.

What happened with Ms. Cabot?

Called away,
your honor.

Rose Callier,
for the people.

- Statement?
- Your honor,

the defendant
forcibly raped Sarah Walsh

at gunpoint
in her apartment.

He has no job
other than dealing drugs.

The people suggest bail
be set at $50,000.


Your honor,
my client, Tom O'Brien--

- His name is Michael!
- What?

- What's your name?
- Michael. Wedmore.


your honor.

Uh, this one just, eh--

Are you serious?

Order in the court!
Sit down.

Counselor, you need time
to get your case organized?

Just a second,
your honor.

You gotta ask
for a new lawyer.

Judge, can I
get a new lawyer?

Mr. Wedmore, you are entitled
to a court-appointed attorney.

You are not entitled
to your choice of attorney.

Can you afford to
hire a lawyer?

We have a lawyer,
your honor.


Bayard Ellis?

Counselor, to what
do we owe this privilege?

I'm here to represent
Michael Wedmore... pro bono.

- Your honor--
- If it pleases the court.

This suitable to you,
Mr. Wedmore?


So ordered.

Will he get out
on bail?

Bail's set
at $50,000.

That should hold him.

Hey, Mike.

Sarah, this is
bureau chief Mike Cutter.

He's gonna be the lead
prosecutor on the case.

- Sarah.
- Bureau chief?

Is this because
of Bayard Ellis?

Why is he taking
the case?

Oh, don't worry
about him.

Just means that we have to
vet every detail.

take a seat.

So let's start
with the security tape.

Now, the, uh,
the assailant entered

the elevator
with you.

Can I ask why you
held the door for him?

I just--

I didn't want him to think
I was a racist.

That's... fine.


on the tape, you appear
to be talking to him.

Hey, new guy.
Good work last night.

just got lucky.

This dumb kid
didn't know

better than to work
his own neighborhood.

Can't be that dumb.

He's got Bayard Ellis
defending him.

Wha--who's that?

He's the go-to lawyer
for drug kingpins.

Used to be
until about six years ago.

He won a huge civil suit,
walked away, took the money,

and started the New York
Center For Civil Liberties.

Trying to buy
a clean conscience.

Ask me, he's still just putting
criminals back on the street.

Only if we don't
do our job.

Any funny business
last night?


So go find out what
he's going to find out

before he finds it out.

After you showered,
did you call anyone?

- Your boyfriend?
- No.

But you have one?

- Yes.
- His name?


We're gonna need
to talk to him.

Uh, I didn't tell him.

I didn't want him

He's my piano teacher
at the school.

He could lose
his job.

Has she had
a performance?

Uh, yeah.

Sarah had a jury performance
two days ago.

She was amazing.

Oh, was that different
than normal?

You know, musicians
are a lot like boxers.

They tend to excel
more quickly

if they're
from harder backgrounds.

She's from Long Island.

Now, did you notice
anything off about her?

She just accepted her praise
and hustled out.

Playing that hard can be
emotionally draining.

What's this about?



What? Uh, sorry,

what did you ask?

The last time you had sex
before the incident.

Uh, two weeks ago.

I've been focusing
on my music.

Liv, can I speak to you
for a second?

Excuse me.

What's up?

We went back to the bar
where Sarah spotted her perp.

Turns out she was there
the night before.

Yeah, I know. She told me.
She has a fake ID.

She had a beer.

Well, it sounds like
she was hitting it

a little bit harder
than that.

She was playing
air keyboards,

singing along
to piano man.

Anything else?

Everything okay?

So, Sarah,
your bartender says

that he saw
you drunk

and flirting
with a guy

the night before
you were attacked.

Was that
your boyfriend?


It was just some guy
at the bar.

I was stressed about, uh,
the recital.

Did you go home
with this guy?


And I don't like being treated
like I did something wrong.

Well, nobody's judging you,

We just can't afford
any surprises.

You wanna tell me what's
going on with that detective?

Um... no.

What the hell--

you've been secretive,

Are you seeing

No, Paul.

I was raped.

In my apartment

Oh, God.

I mean, at least
I'm playing better, right?

I-I-I'm so sorry.

I-I was the one who told you
to move there.

This isn't about you.

At all!


Counselor Ellis.

- Have we met?
- Sergeant John Munch.

I admire
your second act.

Um, I'm not sure
I get the joke.

I'm not joking.

You can be NYPD
and believe in civil liberties.

- Really?
- Yeah.

I'm about to put that
to the test.


Uh, Mr. Ellis is here
on behalf of Michael Wedmore.

The, uh,
elevator surveillance tape.

I'll need a copy
of that.

Also the UF 250s
from the stop and frisks.

Wait, what?

Uh, detective,

two nights ago,
several young black men

in Hamilton Heights
were stopped and frisked

by a blonde female
and black male detective team.

- That would be you and, uh--
- detective Tutuola.

We were looking
for a rapist at large.

You can tell
someone's a rapist

by stopping
and frisking them?

I'll need a report
on each individual stopped.

Rollins, Fin,
take counselor Ellis

into the interview room,

and bring him
whatever he needs.

Right this way,

It may take a while for us
to get the reports in order.

I'm not worried.
Your partner here...

I'm sure
she keeps good notes.

You think a guy like that
really found religion?

There's not a lot of money in rape...
or the fourth amendment.

Speaking of which,
tell me about the gun bust.

It's clean.

I've worked narcotics, warrants.
Done hundreds of these.

And I've seen hundreds of
dropsy cases get thrown out.

What, are you trying
to say something, counselor?

I'm asking the question.

I don't know you.

Detective second grade
Nicholas Amaro.

He threw the gun
under the couch.

I retrieved it.

Now, I'm not sure
if the girl was raped.

But I do know
there was a gun.

Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa.
We're all on the same team here.

Put 'em away.

It's not personal,

Ellis wins this case,

it's not just open season
on my office

but also NYPD.


Hey, Olivia.

It's Nick.


Hey. Uh,
I'm sorry to bother you--

- I'm--I'm not, uh--
- No. No, not at all.

Come in.

- Thanks.
- Yeah.

- This is a nice spot.
- Uh, yeah.

Thank you.

Are you okay? What's up?

You know this, uh, Cutter?

What's your take on him?

Cutter, he's a good lawyer.
He's dedicated.

To his batting average
or the team?

Oh, no. He's on our side.

But he knows that we are...

in for a battle.

Are we clear
on what happened with the gun?

Yeah. You yelled, "gun,"
and I drew on him.

Yeah, but you saw him
throw it, right?

No, you did.
I got there after.

It's Cutter.

Look, Amaro,
we're gonna be fine.

We're gonna be fine.


You gotta be
kidding me.


Hello. I'm calling from
the VINE service.

You're registered to receive
updates about an offender.

Last name, Wedmore.
First name, Michael.

I'm calling to tell you
that there has been a change

in this offender's
custody status.

This offender has been
released from custody.

If you have any concerns
about your immediate safety,

contact your local
law enforcement agency.

Or, if you have an emergency,
call 911.

For more information, contact
Rikers Island in Bronx County.

Ellis posted Michael's bail,

but I don't want you
to worry about it.

He knows
where I live.

There's a pending
restraining order,

and I'm sending a unit
over to you right now.

- No, I have to go.
- Sarah.



I'm so glad
you came.

You know your father
and I love it

when you stay with us
at the house.

We miss
our little girl.


Um, I'm--
I have to go.

I'm-I'm late for practice.

I heard Wedmore
posted bail.

How's your girl?

She wants to go
at it alone.

She doesn't want
anyone to know.

- What is she, 20?
- 19.


Remember when you thought
you were strong enough,

you could handle anything
by yourself?

What's up, sergeant?

Ellis is doing
his due diligence.

And then some.

He's moved
for a Mapp hearing

on the recovery
of the gun.

- You'll both need to testify.
- Well, I'm ready.

He's also moved
for a wade hearing,

challenging the fairness
of the ID.

That would be you two again,
as well as Fin and Rollins.

You can carpool.

That was
good police work.

What's this guy
trying to do?

Death by
a thousand paper cuts.

We conducted
a show-up identification

within a reasonable time of
the victim seeing the suspect.

It's standard
NYPD procedure.

Why didn't you bring
Mr. Wedmore in for a line-up?

Your honor,
the court

has upheld show-up IDs
time and time again.

My client
was ID'd

while handcuffed and
standing with the detectives.

It's inherently

The victim was held by
her rapist for almost an hour.

She has good eyesight.
It's a clean ID.

Your honor, the New Jersey
State Supreme Court

has acknowledged a troubling
lack of reliability

in eyewitness

particularly those involving
a difference in race.

This is not
New Jersey.

I'm going to agree
with the prosecution.

Motion denied,
the identification stands.

He continued
into the Jefferson projects,

ran up the stairs
into his apartment,

he tried to slam
the door on me.

Then I took him down.

Did you see him
throw the gun?

I saw him
fling his arm,

and I heard it slide
across the floor.

You heard it?

With the child crying, Mr.
Wedmore's family screaming?

Yes, and I saw it
go under the couch.

Did you know it was a gun,
or think it was a gun?

I know what
a gun is.

Did you see the gun,

It was chaotic,
they were screaming.

There was a little boy there,
it was very dark--

Yes or no?

And I remind you,
you're under oath.


I heard my partner yell,

So I pulled my weapon,
and I held it on a suspect

while he restrained him.

Your honor,
Mr. Wedmore was in custody.

He was not a threat.

The police had already
secured the room.

They should have requested
a search warrant.

Your honor, the detective
had reasonable cause.

The plain view doctrine
applies here.

Plain view? Under the couch?
Across the room?

Motion denied.

Moving on.

Thanks for having my back.

I can't say that I saw
something that I didn't see.

That's good to know...

We've got
the right man.

Not the right way.

Look, there's
no big conspiracy here.

What's in this
for you?

Nothing, but
if improprieties happen

on ordinary cases
like this,

that means they happen
all the time.

So you're gonna use this case
to declare war on the NYPD?

The NYPD declared war
on young men of color

a long time ago.

500,000 stop and frisks
in one year?

That son of a bitch
raped her.

Last I heard, even if a black
man is accused of rape,

the burden of proof
is still on the state.

You're not answering
your phone.

I can't have you upsetting
your mother like this.

You know how
she gets.

I'm sorry.
I'll call her later.

I know I've been strict
with you.

That can only explain
your choice

to live in
this godforsaken neighborhood.

But don't punish
your mother for that.

Uh, daddy?

What's going on?

something's happened.

of vaginal fissures

with forcible intercourse.

But no foreign DNA
on her person.

Well, she showered.

So it was worth
a shot.

I did find Michael Wedmore's
DNA on the cup.

Anything on the bed?

Yes, fresh semen
within 24 hours of the rape.

That's great.
We got him.

It's not
Michael Wedmore's DNA.

Her boyfriend?

She told us she hadn't had sex
with him in two weeks.

Wasn't him either.

Are you sure?

No-no-no, this doesn't
make any sense.

She told us--

I don't remember his name.

It was just
a one-night stand.

Was it the guy
from the bar?


Please don't tell me
he's black.


Did you take
the elevator?


We specifically asked you
about this.

I've never picked anyone up
at a bar before.

I just thought that
it might look bad.

What looks bad is that
you lied to us.

You know what?
Studying music is hard.

You're alone, you're
practicing all the time.

I mean, that's how I
ended up dating my teacher.

There goes rape shield.

Wait, what does
that mean?

Your lie is in a report
that we gave to the defense.

We have to
inform them.

Ellis is gonna try to use
the other man's DNA

to create
reasonable doubt.

I was just
trying to be

a normal college kid
for once.

So what?

Does this mean that
you drop the case?

No, he still raped you
at gunpoint.

But you're saying
the jury won't believe me.

Just tell the truth, and let
me worry about the rest.

On a sunny afternoon,
Sarah Walsh

entered her apartment
with her groceries.

When she turned to close
her front door,

she found the defendant
pointing a gun at her.

- Do you own a gun?
- No.

How do you explain
the gun

the detectives allegedly found
in your girlfriend's apartment?

All I know is, while one
officer held me at gunpoint,

the other one pulls
this gun out of nowhere

and says,
"you shouldn't have run."

Had you ever seen
that gun before?

No. Look,
I may be a pot dealer,

but that's just so I can
provide for my family.

I deal small quantities.


Everybody knows
a gun is a felony.

Mr. Wedmore held her
at gunpoint.

He locked the door.

She offered him a beer,

hoping that the kindness would
keep him from killing her.

Were you in
Miss Walsh's apartment?

Yes. I helped her
in with her groceries.

She offered me
a beer.

My mother always told me
to stay away from white women.

But she seemed nice,
so I took it.

He wouldn't leave.

With the gun
still pointed at her,

she offered him money.

But that's not
what he wanted.

After she invited you
into her apartment,

offered you a beer,
what happened next?

I wanted to go.

I had to get back
to work.

Then she started
acting weird.

How so?

She asked me if I wanted
to have sex with her.

He told her
to undress

and lay
on the bed.

fearing for her life,

did as she was told.

Did you have sex
with her?

I love my girlfriend.

You okay?

Your friend Ellis tried to
shake my story on the gun.

I think He threw it
under the couch.

There was a kid in the house.
What was I supposed to do?

I get it. We've all been
there, heat of the moment.

Next time, cuff him,
seal the room,

and wait for a warrant,

Miss Walsh, is this you with
my client in your elevator?


And you claimed you've never
met my client before?

That's correct.

Are you sure?
You look so friendly.

- Objection.
- Withdrawn.

An hour later...

is this
my client leaving?


No torn clothing, no signs
of struggle. Would you agree?


After my client left,
did you call the police?

- Or a friend?
- After he raped me, I--

You didn't call anyone,
did you?


No. Instead,
you went to school.

You performed
a piano recital.

I had to
for the grade--

And you got an "A."

Considering how late
you were out the night before.

3:00 A.M.

Do you recognize this man,
Miss Walsh?


Did you invite him
into your apartment?


And you had sex with him on
your bed that night, didn't you?


Is it possible
the injuries you sustained

were from vigorous sex
with this man

before you met
my client?

It wasn't rough.

It was consensual--

Would this man be able to come
forward and testify to that?


And why is that?

I don't know his name.

On the tape, he looks
very similar to my client.

Mid-20s, athletic build,

Objection, your honor.
The defense--

Rephrase. Uh, is it safe to say
you have a type, miss Walsh?

Watch yourself,
Mr. Ellis.

Miss Walsh,

why did you wait so long
to file a police report?

Because I didn't want
anyone to know.


You mean,
your parents?

Or your boyfriend?


So you didn't want them
to know

you were alone
with my client,

or you didn't want
to let them know

you were alone with some
random man the night before?

The one who left his semen
on your sheets?

Which is it,
miss Walsh?

Take your time.

It is confusing.

Ladies and gentlemen,
this isn't 1970.

It's 2011.

And yet you wouldn't know it
from the way

the defense is putting the
victim's personal life on trial.

It's the defendant's actions
that matter here.

Now, he admits to being
in the building

but claims he was only there
to deliver pot.

He admits entering
Miss Walsh's apartment

but claims
he just had a beer.

But what
he won't admit

is the horrible truth...

That in less than
an hour,

at gunpoint,

he irrevocably changed
a young woman's life.

Mr. Foreman.

It is my understanding that
you have come to a decision.

Yes, your honor.

On the charge of criminal
possession of a weapon,

we find
the defendant

not guilty.

On the charge
of rape,

we find the defendant
not guilty.

You black bastard!


- Sarah--
- Don't!

Don't you dare tell me that
that was worth it.

That was so ugly!

Sarah, you didn't let him
get away with it.

You accused him
in public--

So what?

He's going home
with his family.

I would have never
let anyone go through that.

That's true, and I know that
that's how you feel right now--

You have no idea
how I feel!

listen to me.

Sending him to prison

isn't gonna heal you.

Healing begins when
someone bears witness.

I saw you.

I believe you.

Come on, baby.
Let's go.


Thank you.

I didn't ask
for company.

But you got it.

You proud
of yourself?

You brought up
every stereotype.

You shamed that girl
about her sexuality.

You said that if a white girl in
that neighborhood cries rape,

she must have wanted it?
Nice work.

And your case?
The ID?

The gun your partner heard
slide under the couch?


If Michael were white, this
never would've gone to trial.

Oh, wow.

You're still playing
the race card, huh?

84% of the young men in New York
jails are black and latino.

He raped her!

So she says. We don't know.
Neither one of us was there.

The only thing we can do
is believe our people,

and we do it
without question.

So that's it.

You're a true believer.

I am.

And so are you.

I just do my job.

Look, not everyone
in the NYPD

is like you, detective.

I wish they were.

I could retire.

This job,
fighting this hard, it--

win or lose,
it comes with a cost.

We both know that,
don't we?

You know,
I look at the unis,

all these kids
in the squad room,

and all
I can think of

is I'm so tired.

I get it.

This is what happens
when you live for the job.

You need an escape.

I coach my daughter's
softball team.

That must be hell
on the ump.

Why don't you come out
and catch a game?

I do okay
on my own.

You sure about that?

Sync by Adriano_CSI, corrections by Alex1969