In, I suppose, an homage to (one of my favorite movies) “Rear Window,” we see a bunch of motel windows and their occupants inside. Even though we hear hitting sounds and someone saying, “Stop, don’t,” no one seems to hear until we get to a prostitute ready to blow her john. Prostitutes with a heart of gold? Soo over! How about prostitutes with black hearts and blacker souls? She runs next door just in time as someone rushes out. The prostitute runs in and sees a bruised young girl struggling to breathe.
SVU reach the scene and see a lamp used in the attack, its lampshade and bulb removed. The motel is known for its sexual proclivities and they assume the young woman is also a prostitute, especially signing in with a name like Jane Smith, ::GOB voice:: come on! Before they have a chance to question “Jane,” a surveillance camera spots her sneaking out of the hospital. From the phone call records at the motel, they find her father, Mr. Westley, who comes up from Virginia and brings a tape of Lauren Westley in choir that could hopefully help find her. Somehow they get to talking about the “Golden Promise,” promising never to commit pre-marital sex. (I think he was trying to say she was a good girl, since they found out she was lying about hanging with friends and checking colleges in NYC.)
An officer finds a girl matching Lauren’s description sleeping in a car, in a neighborhood commonly known to house prostitutes after they’ve been beaten (that’s a weird sentence). Back in the hospital, they find out she’s pregnant, to her father’s horror. The baby can’t be saved, and he insists she was raped. A young man, Wayne Mortens, tries to sneak in to visit Lauren, but when he sees Detective Stabler he flees, but is caught. They think she was part of an abusive relationship and he didn’t want the baby, so they came up to New York to have an abortion (parental consent not required here, apparently, nice to know). It was too late for the procedure and they think he was so pissed he tried to beat the baby out of her. Oh yeah, he also took the Golden Promise. Way to keep promises, young people of Virginia.
Detective Benson tries to question Lauren, but she’s evasive. They plan on prosecuting Wayne for physical violence and murder of the child. The defendant’s lawyer manages to convince the judge to only refer to the fetus as a foetus and nothing else (meaning it’s not considered a person, thus he could not be charged for murder). With the trial underway, the medical examiner finds bruises on her stomach inconsistent with the lamp and anything else they can think of; they find that they match Lauren’s watch.
We realize she was complicit in the beating, in fact, it was her idea. She wasn’t saying, “Stop, don’t,” but “Don’t stop.” She came up to New York without telling her father, afraid of disappointing him (he had already shunned her older sister for disobedience). When she realized she was too late to legally have an abortion, she decided to take matters in her own hands. The detectives go back to the clinic doctor they had questioned earlier, and ask why he didn’t mention the two visits Lauren made. Too bad I don’t remember what he said. The doctor suggested postponing the surgery because she had a fever and didn’t want complications. They want to talk to the nurse who took her temperature, but since then she’s oh-so-conveniently left her job.
Further digging into the phone records reveal that Lauren called the clinic everyday. They eventually find the nurse who worked on Lauren and she goes on stand. She confesses that the doctor told her to turn away Lauren even though she called constantly, and didn’t let her set an appointment for two weeks… well after the legal limit at which one can abort. The nurse is against abortion, but she couldn’t take lying to her everyday, so she left the job.
Wayne is guilty of physical endangerment. Lauren gets off on probation. Stabler goes to the clinic to arrest the doctor for fraud.
Last week they took parts of the Terry Schiavo case and incorporated it in the story. This week they said it wasn’t based on any real person or event, but it felt eerily familiar to me. L&O gives really good procedural drama.