At a victim's request, the police commissioner tries to convince Cragen to close a rape case whose statute of limitations is about to expire. Benson and Stabler finally realize that one of the victims knows the rapist, but she's not willing to talk.
Did You Know?
This episode is based on the real life rape case of Kathleen Ham, which was one of the cases that helped get the statute of limitations for first-degree rape removed in New York. Ms. Ham was raped at the age of 26 in 1973, much the same way the victim in this episode was raped: her attacker climbed into her bedroom through an open window while she was asleep and raped her. Her attacker, Fletcher Worrell, was captured a short time later. He was arrested, charged and brought to trial but his trial ended in a mistrial due to a hung jury. Before Mr. Worrell could be retried he jumped bail and disappeared. He was on the run for 33 years before a background check to buy a gun in Georgia brought up the open bench warrant on him. He was arrested by the Georgia State Police and extradited back to New York. At the time a rape couldn't be prosecuted 33 years later, but in Mr. Worrell's case the statute of limitations had stopped running when he was formally charged with raping Ms. Ham. Further, even if he had run before he was formally charged, the clock on the statute of limitations also stops running if the perpetrator of the crime flees the jurisdiction. The clock on Mr. Worrell's prosecution was stopped as long as he wasn't in the state of New York. When Mr. Worrell was rearrested, a DNA sample matched semen taken after the rape of Ms. Ham, which lead to Mr. Worrell's conviction. This case raised the issue that it could easily be possible to run into a similar case where the statute of limitations did expire on a case where there was DNA evidence that could prove a rape happened, but prosecution even with the DNA evidence would still be barred by the statute of limitations. So this case helped show how the ability to test DNA, which didn't exist at the time the limitations statute was written, made the need for a statute of limitations on rape outdated and no longer necessary. See more
When Benson and Stabler are interviewing the retired detective at the bar, the level of milk in the glass varies as the camera angle changes. See more
[a rape victim has been found in contempt of court for refusing to reveal her rapist's identity
Captain Donald Cragen
Are you okay?
Detective Olivia Benson
We just put a rape victim in the lockup. No, I'm not okay.
References The Crow