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Denise Pikering
Cassandra Sullivan
Name Denise Pikering
Title Loretta Sheridan
Cassandra Sullivan
Occupation High school student
Pathology Serial con artist
Serial statutory rapist
Family Jeannie Hayes (foster mother)
Angela Farrell (foster mother)
Mr. Farrell (foster father)
Status Imprisoned
Actor Misti Traya
First Appearance "Pretend"

Denise Pikering, alias Cassandra Sullivan, was a woman who repeatedly posed as an orphan teenager, when she was in fact in her late 20s. When one of her younger lovers was killed and she was put in the hospital, the Special Victims Unit began to investigate her for fraud and statutory rape.

Background

Denise was born in 1979 in Detroit and grew up in an abusive home. She was arrested when she was sixteen for shoplifting and was eventually removed from her home and placed into the custody of a woman named Jeannie Hayes, where she grew up happily. When she turned eighteen Denis aged out of the system and was forced into the world on her own. She decided she wouldn't leave the system and began traveling state to state being caught sleeping on public areas so the police would find her. She would tell them she was sixteen so she would get placed in the system. She repeated the cycle so many times she started to believe she really sixteen every time she said it. In some of those cases she would get a boyfriend in the school she was attending and have sex with them.

Denise eventually landed in Allentown, Pennsylvania in 2002 where she was found sleeping in a bus stop. She told the police she was a sixteen year old girl named Loretta Sheridan and was placed in a juvenile group facility through ACS. She started attending Allentown Warner High School and blended in with the rest of the students. The authorities started looking into Denise's story so she fled before they could figure out her scam. Denise continued sneaking her way into the foster care system until she eventually landed in New York.

In October 2006, Denise was found sleeping in Penn Station where she gave her name as Cassandra Sullivan. She was placed in the custody of a couple named the Farrells a month later through ACS and started attending H.S. 85 where she met and started going out with a student Riley Cuskey. She eventually close with him and Riley's best friend, another student, Scott Heston. Riley breaks up with her at one point, citing that she was "too needy." Denise went over to Scott's house screaming, crying, and begging him to talk to Riley for her. Scott hugged her, seduced her and the two of them slept together. Riley eventually agrees to get back together with her and Denise tells Scott Riley can never know what happened between them. But Scott falls in love with her and becomes obsessed with having Denise all to himself, even though Denise makes it clear it won't happen.

Pretend

In April 2007, When Scott is arrested and put on trial for killing Riley by accident, Denise realizes from the way Riley was killed that Scott killed Riley on purpose so Scott could have Cassandra to himself. Denise visits ADA Casey Novak at the courthouse after closing arguments and introduces herself as Riley's girlfriend Cassandra and tells her how all three of them were close. Denise tells Novak Scott keeps writing to her, saying how sorry he is for Riley's death. Denise accompanies Novak to hear the verdict in Scott's case. When the jury finds Scott not guilty of murder in the second degree and manslaughter in the second degree but guilty of criminally negligent homicide Denise moves to leave. Scott attempts to talk to her but she doesn't say anything, she just looks at him with contempt. When Novak comes to Denise's home to talk to her, she reveals what happened between her and Scott and tells Novak Scott learned about the femoral artery (which Scott cut deliberately to kill Riley) in an anatomy class a week before the murder.

Detectives Benson later visits Denis and convinces her to testify at Riley's sentencing hearing to ensure he gets the maximum. While initially reluctant because Denise blames herself for Riley's murder, Benson convinces her by saying it will be her way of making amends with Riley. The next day, Denise is run over by a car, breaking her left leg and jaw, and is taken to Mercy General for treatment. Benson visits her in the hospital and reveals one of Scott's friends Keith was behind the wheel and was paid $500 by Scott to make her miss his hearing, resulting in both their arrests. When the hospital discover her real age and the police dig into her past, Denise claims she is Cassandra vehemently denying everything to Detectives Benson and Stabler. Despite this, Benson and Stabler find out her real named and Denise is kicked out of school and the foster care system and forced to move into a homeless shelter Novak recommended.

When Scott discovers Denise real identity and age his attorney was her charged with statutory rape as part of a legal defense in Scott's attempted murder trial. Novak tries to get Denise to take a plea deal but Denise continues to insist she is Cassandra. Denise then tells Novak she wants to go to court to clear her name and tells her she wants to represent herself instead of letting a public defender do it for her. At her trial, after getting instruction from the judge in her case, she questions Scott on the stand after he is done testifying for the Novak. On cross-examination, Denise gets Scott to admit in a rage that he murdered Scott he could have Denise, tries to assault her and continually screams that he hates Denise for making him do it while he is taken away by the court officer.

In Novak's office, Denise reveals that was her plan the entire time and Novak applauds her. Novak then brings in Jeannie Hayes to talk to Denise and while resistant at first, Denise eventually admits she remembers her and says she snuck back into the system because she wanted to be taken care of again and wasn't prepared for the world when she aged out. Benson and Stabler come by after her story is picked up by the media and other boys she slept with come forward. Denise tells them they were all her high school sweethearts and loved them all, but they got older and she didn't, so she left them.

Known Victims

  • 1997-2007:
    • Numerous unnamed teenage boys (committed consensual statutory rape with them)
    • Indiana: Martin Lynch (committed consensual statutory rape with him)
    • Maryland: Harlan Stell (committed consensual statutory rape with him)
    • New Jersey: Roy Fox (committed consensual statutory rape with him)
    • New York City, New York:
      • Riley Cuskey (committed consensual statutory rape with him)
      • Scott Heston (committed consensual statutory rape with him)

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