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Contagious

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"Contagious"
SVU, Episode 6.05
Production number: E5214
First aired: 11 January 2005
  th of 295 produced in SVU  
th of 295 released in SVU
  th of 1021 released in all  
Dr. Rebecca Hendrix Benson Contagious
Written By
Jonathan Greene

Directed By
Aaron Lipstadt

Plot Edit

A medical exam of a nine-year-old girl, who survived a car accident with her parents, reveals that she was a victim of sexual abuse. Out of fear and desperation, she ends up blaming the wrong suspect, leading to a rash of false accusations against him by other girls. However the SVU finds out she was actually victimized by somebody much closer to the prime suspect.

Summary Edit

A drunk driver causes a car accident with a family of three in Central Park. The family consists of Larry Purcell, his wife Sonya and daughter Holly, all of whom survive the crash. As a doctor tries to change Holly's clothes and replace them with a hospital gown, she immediately panics, impulsively and frantically kicking at the doctor, prompting him and others on his staff to suspect that she may have been a victim of sexual abuse, and to contact SVU. However with her parents unconscious and undergoing surgery, the hospital finds that they can't get permission to take a physical exam in order to determine whether or not she was assaulted. Detectives Benson and Stabler are called in by Dr. Rebecca Hendrix, and Casey Novak gives them court-ordered permission to carry out the exam. Hendrix still needs the presence of the police to document the progress of the examination of Holly, and though she prefers not to have any strange men in the room, Holly seems to take comfort in the presence of Detective Stabler.

As their worst fears are confirmed, the SVU tries to find out who molested Holly. After revealing the abuse to her parents, they claim that her injury was due to a bicycling accident, and medical records confirm this, which rules them out as suspects. Despite their concerns over her psychological well-being, they agree to let Benson interview her, and eventually, she breaks down and finally admits she was molested, but refuses to reveal the culprit, because he threatened to shoot her and her family. To make matters worse she also reveals that he killed Laura Swift, a girl around Holly's age who is the subject of a widely publicized missing persons incident who hasn't been seen since she was in Flushing Meadows - Corona Park.

The detectives now realize that besides finding out who molested Holly, they also have to find Laura Swift's body. During another psychological exam, Dr. Hendrix gives her the opportunity to draw, and many are quite impressed with her artistic skills. Meanwhile, Benson and Stabler interview Mark and Julie Dobbins a couple who are friends of the Purcell family and have daughters of their own. While interviewing Holly's art teacher, Fin and Munch find that Holly deliberately injured herself to get out of gym. Benson and Stabler then interview the nurse to see if she thinks the injuries were an accident and the nurse says no. What they do find out is that Holly had been injuring herself for the past three weeks to get out of gym class. They also meet a boy on Dobbins' lacrosse team named Kevin Wilcox, who reveals that Mark Dobbins is the gym teacher and a substitute is filling in for him right then because he had a game that night, which gives them a reason to suspect Dobbins. After much prodding, Holly tearfully claims that the man who victimized her was family friend, Mark Dobbins. Benson and Stabler arrest Dobbins in the middle of a football game. Later they interrogate him and find that his activities includes hosting sleepovers and a summer camp in The Poconos for girls, and teaching gym. Dobbins was among many who were interviewed, and when he reveals his assumption that Swift is dead, the detectives think they have further proof of his guilt. Stabler suggests that he molested both Holly, Laura, and his own daughters, and he finds the notion so repulsive that he demands a lawyer for any further questioning.

News of the victimization of Holly gets around as well as that of the missing girl, and other parents come forward, thus preventing him from making bail. All the girls tell the same story as Holly Purcell, which seems to give the detectives an open and shut case, however nothing they say reveals the whereabouts of Laura Swift or any other girl who's missing, nor does it soothe Holly's fears. When the news media gets word of the spree of molestations at the school Cragen tries to keep as much info from them as he can. During the search of the Dobbins' basement, Julie Dobbins pleads her husband's innocence, insisting that she was an eyewitness to the activities at the household, which Stabler misinterprets as an absurd sexual fetish, and chastises her so severely, that it almost seems like he's ready to attack her.

Realizing that he may be a danger to the public, Stabler tries to calm down. Benson suggests that he goes home to his family, but he's torn between his family troubles and helping Holly. On the way out though, Fin finds that Mark has a sealed arrest record from the Erie County District Attorney, which he explains, despite advice from his attorney not to do so. Due to some circumstantial evidence by a teenage prostitute and a "drunken cop," Mark was falsely arrested (although the charges were subsequently dismissed), and revealed that he had to forge documents indicating he was allowed to work with children. Novak thinks she can use this to get a confession from him on the whereabouts of Swift, but he still adamantly denies raping or killing anybody.

Stabler tries to break himself away from the case in order to maintain his sanity, but Benson insists that he should help Holly prepare for Mark's trial. But before even doing so, she breaks down again and reveals that Mark is completely innocent. When one of his other alleged victims reveals that her mother pressured her into accusing him of sexual abuse, Stabler rushes to get Novak to drop the charges and set him free. After his exoneration hearing Larry reveals he and Sonya may have been responsible for inadvertently creating the persecution. Even with the presence of her parents, Holly is still afraid to reveal who molested her. Hendrix suggests that the family take her on vacation in an attempt to make her feel safe, but it doesn't lead to the whereabouts of Laura Swift. After reexamining Holly's artwork, Hendrix suddenly realizes that she made a grave error in her analysis. She notices that the uniform of the person that she suspected was not a coach's athletic uniform, but that of a student, particularly, a lacrosse captain.

Holly finally reveals that she was molested by Kevin Wilcox, who is arrested on the spot. During his interrogation, Stabler and Fin reveal that their evidence against him is solid and threaten him, unless he reveals the whereabouts of the girl he killed. After Wilcox's confession, Fin joins other unseen officers to find Laura Swift's body in College Point. On his way home, Benson stalls him so she can direct him to his family who are throwing a birthday party for him at his desk. Unfortunately the happiness of the moment is shattered, when the Dobbins couple reveal that Chestnut Academy dismissed Mark, for forging his letter destroyed his integrity which could be an endangerment for the students. As a result of this, he will never get another teaching career and he and his wife are selling the house and moving upstate with his in-laws. Stabler took the blame thinking that this wouldn't never happen if they could have realized who Holly's abuser was. Mark agrees, and walks away. Benson reminds him that his family is still there to celebrate his birthday.

Cast Edit

Main cast Edit

Recurring cast Edit

Guest cast Edit

ReferencesEdit

Bellevue Hospital Center; Queens; Flushing Meadows-Corona Park; Pocono Mountains; Chestnut Academy; Federal Bureau of Investigation; Rikers Island; Erie County; College Point;

QuotesEdit

  • Munch (to a tip caller): We don't need a psychic. You're that good, who's gonna win the Super Bowl?
  • [When Holly is about to get an IV]
    Holly: I wish my dad was here.
    Stabler: You'll see him in a while. What's your most favorite thing you like to do with your dad? I got twins your age, and we like to go to the beach together.
    Holly: My dad takes me to the beach, too. We build sand castles. I don't like needles.
    Stabler: Okay. Hold onto my hand. Now close your eyes and pretend that you're at the beach building sand castles with your dad. And if it hurts, you squeeze my hand really hard, okay?
    Holly: What do you do when something hurts?
    Stabler: I think of my kids.
  • Benson: You know, running away's not gonna help.
    Stabler: I'm a little beat for the dime store shrink routine right now.
    Benson: Elliot, that little girl is counting on you. You quit on her, and you're just another man she can't trust. That's not who you are.

Background information and notesEdit

  • Goof: In the scene where the charges are dismissed against Mark Dobbins, the judge refers to Dobbins' lawyer as "Mr. Langdon", when he should have said "Mr. Langan."

Episode scene cards Edit

1 2 3 4

Bellevue Hospital
Advocacy Center
Interview Room
Thursday, October 14

Bellevue Hospital
Sonya Purcell's Room
Friday, October 15

Supreme Court
Part 38
Tuesday, October 19

Trial Part 38
Tuesday, October 19


Previous episode:
"Haunted"
"Contagious"
Law & Order: Special Victims Unit
Season 6
Next episode:
"Identity"
Seasons 123456789101112131415
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