Happy Thanksgiving Eve, Americans! At you prepare for a frenzy of cooking, eating, and possibly standing outside stores waiting for Black Friday, get into the spirit of season with the SVU squad when?actually, you should probably just avoid this episode.
An elderly man comes into the precinct, but Nick is too busy to talk to him right away. The office is chaotic and the man leaves. He kills himself that night. In his apartment is a letter he brought with him earlier from someone accusing him of abuse.
The man was a Harold Lassiter, an English teacher at a private school. The letter was written by “Curt”, a former student the detectives must hunt down. A different pupil of Lassiter’s confirms that he was, in his words, “touchy-feely”, and points them in the direction of the drama club. Sure enough, Lassiter was a drama teacher in the past, and abused Curt, who fell apart after once dreaming of stardom. Olivia and Nick lean on him to reveal other victims.
They follow him to a therapy group and persuade some of the others there to speak out again in the wake of Lassiter’s death. One guy, Nathan, scoffs angrily at the rest and walks out, but multiple men provide details of what professors did to them when they were kids. That’s “professors” plural, as in more than one. The good news, if there is any, is that Lassiter’s death is confirmed as a suicide, so nobody has to worry about a murder charge.
Watch Law and Order: SVU – Lessons Learned Online
Law and Order: SVU S14E08: Lessons Learned
ADA Barba joins in the case once we get to at least 4 perpetrators and a dozen victims. They speak to a few other people, including one former teacher, Professor Tomkin, who says he did have relations with students, but that these were consensual and legal. Still, he’s worried that he may have hurt someone, and is willing to let those students confront him. The therapy group thinks pressing a case is going to be difficult, but there’s general agreement that they want justice from a school that covered up all manners of abuse.
The heads of the school are belligerent, largely because they know how much trouble they’ll be in if this goes pubic. Barba was and is still sure that they’re not going to be able to make a case, but Olivia persuades him to keep trying. When a headmistress of another school says she fired one of their suspects, Professor Strepik, based on her own suspicions, the case moves forward. Unfortunately, there’s not much willingness to talk from anyone but the victims, one of whom disappears and turns up unconscious in a hotel with a hooker.
Vincent was supposed to be a prime witness, having been given an STD by his the late Strepik. Thankfully, Strepik’s cousin is willing to let them have access to his medical records. Less thankfully, there’s apparently some law on record that says those records can’t be used to damage a deceased person’s image. The heads and their lawyer continue to cover for all the rapists while excusing themselves by trying to go after Tomkin. That case inspires one of the former students Tomkin did have sex with to support him, and provide evidence against Strepik.
The detectives again talk to one of the heads, a man surnamed Forrester, who turns out to be Nathan’s father. Apparently, Nathan was invited to that therapy group randomly for the first time the night he stalked out. He’d been abused by Strepik, and his father either didn’t know or didn’t care. Later, though, Forrester is part of a public forum held by the school, where he offers a rather lukewarm apology to the collected victims. Branca was right- there will never be more of a trial. Still, Liv is happy they accomplished something.
Often, what’s considered a bright side in the world of sexual abuse is still pretty dismal, and I’d say that counts here, too. Forrester seems to feel real guilt, but he didn’t do a great job of expressing it. I suppose the other silver lining is that most of the abusers are dead- but that’s also part of the reason their victims won’t get legal justice. At least it looks like Branca’s going to be a recurring character. He’s continuing to develop good relationships with everyone in the squad.