If there was ever a vaccine to protect oneself from wasting an hour watching a lackluster episode of any television show, this episode begged for it. The problem with kids spreading photos from their “rainbow party” could have been an episode all its own and gone many different ways. Instead, it took a turn to focus on a case that really was not in the purview of the Special Victims Unit: vaccinations. In this case, it WAS personal. Had Benson’s own foster son Noah not been directly affected by the measles outbreak, I can’t image a case like this would ever be on the radar of a Special Victims Unit. If the episode was going to focus on a topic that had no special victim, it should have at least included a substantive debate of the core issue. This episode did not. Instead, it glossed over the same tired pro and con arguments or vaccinations.
Editorial comments: I can speak from personal experience that vaccines can both help and harm. I had a severe reaction to my smallpox vaccine in the 1950s, and 2 bad reactions from tetanus shots. (Clearly I lived to tell about it.) I have a nephew with severe autism and have seen many more children affected by this condition. It does make one wonder what exactly is causing what looks like an explosion of autistic boys? All that said, vaccines do work and do serve to keep many dangerous diseases at bay. I have many memories of those years when measles, chicken pox, mumps, polio, etc. spread easily and I wouldn’t want that for any child today.
If I followed the dates correctly, Noah was in the ICU for about a month. I know he has a compromised immune system, but that seemed like a awfully long time to be in pediatric ICU. We didn’t really see Benson at the office at any time during that month so we can only guess how she was juggling her job and Noah’s hospitalization at the same time. It also wasn’t until near the end of the trial that Benson told Barba that Noah’s fever was spiking and he may need a spinal tap, sounding as if after all that time in the ICU, Noah was not improving. We don’t know exactly how long it was after that that she told Fin and Amaro that Noah may be home soon. Bottom line is that Noah’s health will likely continue to be a problem area and will continue to put stress on Benson. Can she handle it long term?
Barba erred when, rather than call the actual CDC or medical expert to confirm that epidemiological testing shows that Noah’s virus came for patient zero, he had Benson relay that information, which was quickly thrown out. Clearly, Carisi is getting on Barba’s nerves and I enjoy Barba’s sassiness in response. On the subject of Carisi, we can only wonder if he is a bit of a hypochondriac or germaphobe as he seemed concerned he had caught something plus his obvious use of hand sanitizer.
We can only wonder what further angst awaits Amaro with Gil and his mother possibly leaving for San Diego. With Zara already in California, are we being led to think if Amaro will make a change in jobs and head there in order to be close to both children? Also, he didn’t tell Rollins about it until weeks after he heard about the possible move from Gil, and that seems like a long time to not share information like this with a close co-worker.
And what’s going on with Fin? His character seems like nothing more than window dressing lately. This episode felt like a waste of the use of the rare time the whole main cast is present.
Note: the information on this form indicates that Noah was born sometime in December of 2013.
The form is dated 3/30/15 and Benson lists his age as 15 months.
The form is dated 3/30/15 and Benson lists his age as 15 months.
Mariska Hargitay – Sergeant Olivia Benson
Ice-T – Detective Odafin “Fin” Tutuola
Kelli Giddish - Detective Amanda Rollins
Danny Pino - Detective Nick Amaro
Raúl Esparza - ADA Rafael Barba
Peter Scanavino - Detective Dominick “Sonny” Carisi, Jr.
Missi Pyle - Trudy Malko
Hari Dhillon – Counselor Varma
Jefferson Mays - ME Rudnick
Aida Turturro - Judge Felicia Catano
Julie Lauren - Mia Biel
Marla Sucharetza –
David Margulies - Dr. Eric Setrakian
Christine Toy Johnson - Dr. Celia Lee
Bronwyn Reed - Lucy Huston
Susie Essman - Arlene Heller
Emily Dorsch - Principal Schwartz
Tony Campisi – Counselor Steve Roth
Stephen Bradbury – Judge Colin McNamara
Jaden Matthew Rodriguez - Gil Mancheno
Jack Garrity - Michael Boylan
Kate MacCluggage – Gabriel Dole
Savannah Biel - Hayden Tweedie
Lois Robbins – Jillian McAdams
Dante Palminteri – Leo McAdams
Jackson Stenborg – Jaden Boylan
Joy Lynn Pringle – Chloe Harrington
Dante Bruzzese – Larry Heller
Cliff Samara - Jury Foreperson
Getting ready for school, Gabriel showers. When he sees his step mom with her other son Aidan, he coughs and says his temperature is 99 but says his day says he should go to school.
At her home, Benson readies Noah to see Dr. Lee and later is at the pediatrician’s office filling out a consent form for the MMR vaccine. Aidan and his mother are also there in the waiting room.
In school, Gabriel shows another boy that he has a bag full of vodka bottles, and Principal Hannah Schwarz walks by and tells them to get to class. Later, the kids use the booze during a “rainbow” party at someone’s home. There are many videos and pictures taken on cell phones.
Later, Leo is in class and views some of the photos and decides to forward them along. Afterwards in the school hall, Principal Schwartz catches a group of kids looking at something and takes one of the phones and sees the photos and looks shocked.
At SVU, Benson tells the detectives about the group of kids from a Tribeca going off campus for lunch and having a “rainbow party.” She explains explicit photos were taken and then they went viral at the schools and they have a lot of kids and panicking parents. As they walk to the elevator, Rollins has to explain to Amaro what is a rainbow party and comments she is never having kids.
At Tribeca Academy, 157 Franklin Street on Monday, March 9, Benson confers with Schwartz who has the 9 kids from the party – 9th and 10th graders - involved and their parents waiting in a separate area. Schwartz explains to the upset parents that the police are there to take their statements and there will be time to discuss policy going forward but they need to address the situation at hand. Benson explains that they realize kids are kids and they want to keep this in proportion but they need to determine if any crimes were committed. She says they can be present when they talk to the child and any pictures from the party should not be posted or shared.
The detectives split up to interview the kids. One girl says she heard about the party via a text from Jaden. Another parent said he heard the girls were just as complicit as the boys. Another girl, Savannah, along with her mother Mia, states there was pressure to do all the guys but she didn’t and she doesn’t even like Jaden. She said she was mostly with Leo who is her lab partner. Leo tells Fin he doesn’t know where the lipstick came from, they were just playing a kissing game. Benson hears from Gabriel about this kissing game and his step mother, Colleen Dole, recognizes Benson from Dr. Lee’s office. Gabriel is her step son, his father is in Moscow and she’s told him what has happened. Amaro and Fin continue their interviews and when Fin senses reluctance from Leo he suggests they bring the kid in and have CSU do a body scan.
While Benson hears Gabriel whine about the matter, his mother Trudy Malko arrives and said she heard about this from his father in Moscow. Colleen explains they share custody. Trudy says she heard Savannah hosted the party and Mia is an engaged parent and is sure she did not know about this. Gabriel continues to cough.
Later, at SVU, Amaro brings Colleen Dole and Michael Boylan into Benson’s office. They want to apologize and they are upset about the party and the kids messing around. Amaro states this wasn’t just kids playing spin the bottle. Colleen replies that they know, she had Gabriel show her the photos and his father is flying back tonight. Benson states they still need to conduct their investigation. Colleen says there are rumors going around that the boys might be arrested, and Boylan adds the girls were just as complicit. Colleen stresses these are good kids but Amaro reminds them there are age of consent issues and when the kids post those images it crosses the line. When they get worried, Benson says she is glad they came in but there is no need to panic. When she explains she has two of her detectives at the DA’s office now, Boylan begs them to keep this in perspective and their boys will not do this again.
In Barba’s office, Rollins and Carisi review the issues. Carisi explains in detail and Barba quickly said he gets it, and asks that there were no teachers. Rollins confirms they were all minors from 14 to 16 and no one is claiming coercion. Carisi adds he does not see statutory and Barba, looking annoyed, states it is not Carisi’s call but then quickly says he is right. The bigger issue is the photos and he asks Carisi how explicit did they get? Carisi brings up the photos on his tablet and shows them to Barba, Barba looks at them and then asks Carisi if he realizes that Carisi just showing him the photos could constitute a Federal crime and if that is Carisi’s personal tablet he would get rid of those. When Barba asks how viral has this gone, Rollins said in the school, pretty far. Carisi says the parents have circled the wagon on the privacy issue. Barba states they have to track these images down and remove them from the Internet by contact tracing. He tells them to confiscate everybody’s phone and go from there. When Carisi gripes about it, Barba emphasizes they have to protect these kids: with facial recognition and geo-tagging and photo tagging there could be pornographers and predators honing in on them now. When Rollins asks if he wants to explain that to the parents’ Barba dryly states that is SVU’s job, and to have fun.
At the school with a lot of police, phones are being confiscated. When Schwartz tells Benson of the complaints she is getting from parents. Benson says to tell them if they don’t contain this now, there will be images of their children on the Internet for eternity.
Rollins asks Chloe what is her pass code, and Chloe asks if Rollins is going to wipe her phone, as she just got to level 386 on Candy Crush. When her mother glares at her, she then gives the code as 10971097. Carisi asks Leo for all his social media passwords and when he grips his mother orders him to write them down. Fin gets Jaden’s information. When Amaro asks where is Gabriel Dole, his mother says he is home sick and he has the cell. When Amaro says he will need his passwords, he calls her Mrs. Dole, but she counters her name is Trudy Malko and she is happily uncoupled. Amaro asks if there is a landline where her son is, and if she can call him and come back when she’s filled the form out. When she walks off with the paperwork, she walks into Principal Schwartz who is there with Benson, and Trudy says she tells her she is finding this very invasive. Hannah counters that she is sure that Trudy does not want to find sexually explicit images of Gabriel going viral on the Internet. Benson emphasizes it is for her son’s protection. Trudy thinks that should be her call, and Benson counters not if it involves child pornography charges. Trudy comments that is must be stressful to spend so much time in such a dark world, and she walks off. Schwartz comments to Benson that Trudy has a lifestyle website and she reviews holistic treatments and herbal therapies - she is the queen bee of the Tribeca moms. Benson comments there is one in every hive. Benson’s phone vibrates; it is Dr. Lee. She says Noah is home with the babysitter and asks if everything is okay. She looks stunned.
Later, in Dr. Lee’s office, Benson is shocked when she finds that Noah MAY have been exposed to measles by another patient in the waiting room. Benson states he was just vaccinated yesterday, and Dr. Lee says this is good but the vaccine takes time for it to go into full effect. The doctor says there is no fever so far, so that is a good sign. Benson asks if the patient Noah was exposed to was Aiden Dole who has an older brother Gabriel, and Dr. Lee says she can’t say, which Benson understands. Benson asks if there is anything she can do now, and the doctor says she would like Benson to quarantine him at home with no exposure to other children, but adults who have been vaccinated are fine. He has to be quarantined 8 days to start and knows with Benson’s job that will be difficult. Benson says she will do whatever they have to. She picks up Noah and repeats that they will do whatever they have to.
Fin and Amaro arrive at Benson’s home with boxes of files, saying the Chief said she could work from home as long as needed. She explains Noah is cranky and sluggish Lucy is there helping her out. Amaro explains TARU is working on the phone and they may be short a few. Benson says she will talk to Schwartz. She adds Noah’s exposure to measles may have come from a Tribeca Academy student. Fin and Amaro discuss other areas with measles problems and Benson asks Amaro if Gil has been vaccinated. He says he wasn’t around when Gil was one but he is picking him up this afternoon and will put in a call to Gil’s mom.
At Casey Stengel Middle School at 30-99 44th Street in Queens on Wednesday, March 11, Amaro picks up Gil and hears from Gil his mother may be moving to San Diego in July. Gil does not want to go and hopes Amaro will talk to her, and Amaro, looking worried, says Gil will see him no matter what and it will all be fine.
Back at Barba’s office, Rollins and Carisi are in the waiting area and Barba tells them this is an unmitigated disaster. Rollins explains TARU used the photos to do a reverse image search and found a lot on RedChan and kiddie porn sites. Even though they warned them explicitly not to share the, Barba is not surprised. Carisi says his mother calls it “tenacity.” Rollins confirms they can’t be traced to any device in custody and there are 7 devices they don’t have. There are two from the party and a few from other kids. Carisi explains some parents were making noise about civil right violations and says he doesn’t want to tell Barba he told him so. Barba calmly snaps back “Then don’t” and adds it is just as likely the parents are worried their kids are circulating child pornography. Barba asks if they need more to get the other 7.
In the principal’s office, when they try to get the status of the other kids, they find two are home sick – Carisi suspects measles but Schwartz won’t confirm, but says CDC has been notified according to policy. Larry’s mother is Arlene Heller, a lawyer, who Carisi knows was Walter Brigg’s widow’s attorney, a live wire.
Later, Carisi and Rollins speak with Heller at the school, who says her kid wasn’t at the party. They approach Larry sitting by his locker with two others and he says he lost his phone. Carisi dials the number and they hear the phone ring in his locker.
At the loft of Mia and Savannah Biel at 59 White Street on Wednesday, March 11, Trudy is also there as the three ladies drink wine and discuss the school situation. The buzzer sounds and Mia hears Rollins and Carisi are there and she lets them up. They want to speak with Savannah and get her phone but Mia says Savannah is home sick too. Carisi asks if it was the measles, and Mia asks if the school told them that. Rollins takes that to mean she does have measles, and Mia says she will get the phone.
Later, at Benson’s apartment, Fin and Amaro are there and Benson hears some of the images have been uploaded to porn sites. She asks if they can stop this from spreading, and Fin explains once you put it out there you can’t pull it back. Amaro explains the legit sites take them down but they have gone viral. He adds Rollins and Carisi have taken the last of the phones and TARU should find which student linked them. Benson asks then what – arrest them? She comments they are 15 years old, and Fin adds they are white and rich, it is not going to happen and they all know it’s true. Amaro asks how is Noah and Benson explains she could not get him down for his nap and he is running a fever. Amaro comments two of the kids who didn’t turn in their phones were out sick – kids from the party – and Rollins thought they might have measles. Benson asks how, they had to have been vaccinated. Lucy races out of Noah’s room and says she gave Noah his inhaler but he is still having trouble breathing and he is turning blue. Benson races in and tells the guys to call 911. Fin says he will get the car, it is faster and Amaro says they will meet him out front.
Benson races Noah into the hospital and Dr. Lee is there and takes immediate action. Benson is frantic but Dr. Lee won’t let her in, saying she will let her know when he is stable. She watches through the window, anguished.
Back at SVU, Carisi comments he is getting warm and asks Rollins to feel his forehead. She declines, and then makes him think he has spots on his face. He does not appreciate the joke and when he gets panicky about measles, she reminds him he is vaccinated. He counters they are not 100% effective. She states she got an update from TARU; Larry Heller spread the photos, the cell phone number was embedded in the photos. When Carisi comments the mother has a mouth on her and asks who wants to give her the good news, Rollins smiles and suggests they pass it off to Barba; calling it a professional courtesy.
In Barba’s office, he discusses the issue with Heller, Rollins also present. When Rollins tries to explain the danger, Heller brings up the fact that the kids at the party have measles, complaining that the hippy-dippy moms didn’t have their kids vaccinated and lied about it. She says New York requires every kid in school to be immunized and asks how is this spreading? She accuses the moms of colluding to find ways around the vaccine mandate. Barba jokingly asks if this is part of an anti-vaxxer conspiracy, and Heller says there could be a measles epidemic in New York and they are conducting a lipstick porn witch hunt. Barba tells her to breathe; he is not looking to put her son on the registry but he doesn’t get a free pass. Heller says her son is 16 years old and the on-line sickos are using him; suggesting her son cooperates and Barba go after them. Barba adds that her son testifies, and Heller replies if need be. She says unless they are planning to perp-walk Larry, they are done and she leaves the office. Barba tells her they will be in touch. Barba tells Rollins that Heller called their bluff, and says the measles misdirect offense was the best defense. Rollins explains Heller may not be blowing smoke; Noah is in the hospital and he may have been infected by the younger sibling of a boy at the party. Rollins doesn’t want to pull a Carisi but they could be looking at reckless endangerment. He tells her to find out if they are.
Later, at the school where it has been closed to be sanitized, Schwartz explains to Fin and Amaro they have closed as a precaution. They only had two medical exemptions from vaccinations for allergies. They do not allow personal exemptions and New York state makes religious exemptions hard to get. Amaro asks to look at the forms.
As Amaro and Fin review the forms, they see all the forms are signed by an MD. They note that many of the forms are signed by someone at Hudson Park Pediatrics. Schwartz gets a message that there are two more confirmed for measles.
At the hospital, Benson is on the phone and hears there are 9 kids in total with measles from that practice and the CDC knows. She tells them they have to talk to that doctor. Dr. Lee enters and says she got Noah’s blood work back and thinks he is fighting a respiratory infection and she wants to start him on antibiotics. Benson worries he has been on them so many times, but Lee wants to shoot first and ask questions later as Noah does not need a third bout with pneumonia in his two years. Benson asks Lee if she knows a Dr. Eric Setrakian, and Lee explains he is old school, he likes to Ferberize and doesn’t like to over medicate or over test and the parents love him.
At Hudson Park Pediatrics at 89 Thomas Street on Thursday, March 12, Rollins and Carisi speak with Dr. Setrakian about the measles outbreak and says he will check the records. He adds that the MMR vaccine isn’t 100% effective. He adds they are talking about a period over 10 years and he can’t tell them how many doctors have rotated through the practice in that time. Carisi reminds Setrakian that he has always been there and says he will look into this.
Outside, Carisi tells Rollins that Setrakian is lying and is stonewalling. He rubs sanitizer on his hands. Rollins says if Setrakian faked the immunization records, the mothers have to know.
Later, Rollins and Carisi speak with Mia and they explain they think Setrakian is falsifying records. She tries to blow them off, but Savannah walks in, clearly sick with measles. Savannah says they were just having fun and that loser Larry ruined it for everyone. When Rollins asks Mia to tell them what is going on, Mia tells them they should leave. Rollins states that they can go but they can also get the DA to look at her daughter for child pornography. Mia says Savannah was just a baby and the chemicals and threat of autism - a religious exemption was denied. It wasn’t her idea to falsify records. Carisi asks her to tell them whose idea this was.
Benson and Barba enter Trudy Malko’s home and Trudy asks if it is about the party, stating she can assure them the parents’ association is dealing with the school. Benson asks how is her so doing, and Trudy explains he is out of the woods. She adds this has been stressful for Colleen and she always insisted that Gabriel be raised in ways that strengthen his natural immunity. Benson asks if this is why he was never vaccinated, and when Trudy does not reply, Benson comments they can subpoena a blood sample. Trudy states the risks of vaccination outweigh the benefits. When Gabriel was born, she tried to get a medical or religious exemption but she couldn’t get either one. Benson asks if that is why she had Dr. Setrakian lie on his record. Trudy says he believes the parents should have the right to decide what is best for their children. Barba asks if she recommended him to families who are looking to get around the law, and Trudy states emphatically that the law is unjust. As a mother protecting her child, she can’t tell him how many mothers thank her for what she is doing. Benson questions, ”Doing? So you’re still steering parents to Dr. Setrakian?” Trudy does not reply. Benson looks to Barba then states they will need their names. Trudy says she won’t betray them; the AMA, the CDC, the Board of Health, the Department of Education are the villains here and to go after them. Benson raises her voice and asks “After them? You’re encouraging other parents! You are endangering the health of every child in this city!” Trudy calmly states “So this is personal? Because your son took ill, you and you are coming after me.” Barba states this has nothing to do with Benson’s son. As Trudy smirks, Barba adds that she is openly flouting the law and this is reckless endangerment and they will stop her. Trudy continues t smirk as Benson glares at her.
In court, Trudy and Dr. Setrakian are being arraigned for reckless endangerment, conspiracy, and falsifying business records in the 2nd degree. Trudy’s lawyer pleads not guilty and requests ROR to care for her sick child. Barba counters is it her own fault her child is sick. Trudy says she wants to win her case and they are both willing to risk their reputations and livelihood. The judge cuts her off and grants ROR. Dr. Setrakian’s lawyer asks to approach the bench, and when he and Barba do so, he asks for Dr. Setrakian to be separated from Trudy’s trial, he is close to retirement and willing to plead to reckless endangerment if Barba will take prison off the table. Barba will agree if he gives him the records of all those falsified, forfeits his license and agrees to testify against Trudy. The lawyer agrees and so does the judge.
Afterwards in the courthouse hall, Carisi is there with Heller and says Larry Heller has 6 pedos on the hook, all willing to exchange porn files, zip drives etc. Barba tells him to reel them in and give them to TARU. Heller asks if he is done with Larry and Barba states unless they need him to testify at trial, they are good. She asks if he ever followed up with Typhoid Trudy and he explains Trudy just got arraigned and she will get her day in court. As he walks off, Heller tells Barba “You’re welcome.”
In Supreme Court Part 13 on Monday, April 6, Barba has Dr. Rudnick on the stand talking about the dangers of measles. Barba shows a CDC transmission map of the measles and the doctor explains how the virus moved through the area starting with patient zero. All of those ill had not been vaccinated. Under cross, Rudnick can’t speak to any issues regarding those children killed by vaccines. He says the side effects to the vaccine are mostly mild but admits there are serious side effects that are statistically insignificant. Trudy’s lawyer tells him to tell that to the families of the children who experience them.
Benson testifies and explains Noah’s bout with measles and his medical issues. She explains how he was exposed. She says the CDC confirmed with epidemiological testing that Noah’s virus come for patient zero. The defense objects as she is not a doctor or medical researcher and it is sustained. She explains all Noah’s complications and hospitalization and he is still in pediatric ICU. The defense tries to paint her personal connection as the reason as to why her department pursued the case. Benson speaks highly of the use of vaccines. He also questions why, as Noah is 16 months old with a compromised immune system, why she did not have him vaccinated at 12 months as recommended. She explains the doctor recommended she delay his immunization because of his immune system and they were at the doctor’s office to get his MMR when he was exposed. He reminds her Benson was the one who chose to delay his vaccination and when she tries to explain, he continues to cut her off, saying her delay was just like Trudy’s decision not to vaccinate at all.
In the court hallway, Benson is on the phone and says she is not panicking, and then says she is on her way. Trudy stops her and Trudy tries to explain Noah will be stronger for this. Benson testify tells Trudy she should not get into this with her now as her son is suffering and they are upping his antibiotics. Trudy says the overexposure to antibiotics is maybe why his immune system is so weak and that is another thing she should think of. Benson turns and gets in Trudy’s face and shouts that Trudy may want to think about shutting her mouth, her son wouldn’t have pneumonia if it weren’t for Trudy. Barba walks up and asks if everything is alright and she says no, Noah’s fever is spiking and if it doesn’t come down they may have to give him a spinal tap.
Later, Trudy is testifying about the fact that some believe that western medicine and antibiotics pose risks to the wellness of children. She cites an example of her nephew who, after his 22 doses of vaccine, changed in behaviors and regressed to autism. Her own son was born a year later and swore not to vaccinate. All she wants to do is advocate for parents to make the choice for their own child. Under cross, Barba brings up the fact that many medical groups show there is no links between vaccines and autism. Trudy does not trust them and mentions the problems with thimerosal being a causal agent. Barba says that theory has been refuted and thimerosal has been removed from vaccines in 2001. She is aware of all the arguments, she just believes this should be a choice not imposed by bureaucrats. Barba brings up other rules for the school, such as peanut butter allergy issues, but Trudy says denying a child peanut butter would cause no harm, vaccines are. Barba brings up medical science and that being exposed to the virus has caused harm. He presses that she did not just make the decision for her and what gives Trudy the right to take away their choice. When the defense objects and the judge acknowledges, Barba ends his questioning.
Back at SVU at the coffee station, Amaro looks dejected and when Rollins approaches, he explains they are holding off on Noah’s spinal tap. He said in the middle of all this, Benson reminded him to make sure Gil and Zara are vaccinated, and they were. He mentions the situation with Gil and his mother possibly moving to San Diego. He wants to be a part of their life and is trying hard to make thinks work and asks if things get easier. Rollins replies not that she has heard. Carisi enters and apologizes for interrupting and Amaro and Rollins answer in unison that he is not interrupting. Carisi gives them a look and says okay, and tells them the jury is back.
In Supreme Court Part 13 on April 8, the verdict is read. Trudy is found not guilty of reckless endangerment in the first degree, but guilty of one count reckless endangerment in the second degree. Trudy does not look happy.
In the ICU, Benson watches Noah from the other side of the window with Fin and Amaro. Amaro says they should have hit Trudy with a felony count. Fin states Trudy got 3 months in jail with 9 months probation and asks how is Noah doing. Benson explains that the worst is over and he should be home in a day or two. She walks into the room and sadly looks toward Noah as we fade to black.
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