A bare pantry. A little kid is standing on a stool, looking for food. Only thing there is soy sauce.
Kid jumps, tries to open front door, gets chair to do it.
Kid unlocks door, walks down hall by himself, follows someone outside.
It's a bad neighborhood, it seems, possible gang members on corner.
Kid wanders into street by himself, car honks. Kid goes into convenience store and tries to buy something. Clerk notices and asks where his mommy is.
Benson is walking with supervisor guy. She passed her exam. She gets a call.
The kid won't talk, won't give them a name, SVU was called.
Benson plays with the kid. He nods but doesn't speak. He finally gives her a name Bruno
A doctor says Bruno has delayed speech and that nobody's taking care of him, so he's malnourished. She's going to run more tests.
Rollins interviews a lady in the park who says she must be carrying a girl and tells her Bruno's mom is messed up.
Sonny interviews another lady in the park who is suspicious of him and gives little info.
Fin interviews a Hispanic guy who tries to record the conversation. Fin loudly says he's a snitch to get him to talk.
Mom is Dominican and her first name is Manuela. Sonny tried to call Child Services but they won't do anything because he has no last name for the kid. Rollins is made to stay and work phones instead of going in the field.
Benson and Sonny go to interview someone at the CPS office and meet an overworked case worker as well as their witness. CPS worker has Bruno's full name, is unaware that he was found wandering the streets alone. CPS was there a couple weeks ago and BOTH kids were fine. Apparently Bruno has an older half-sister who is 8. They go in and the place is super hot and the TV is playing cartoons. Nobody is there. Benson and Sonny find a little girl locked in a cage in the bedroom, unconscious but pulse is existent.
Olivia looks at girl, Keisha, in hospital. Doctor says girl might die of dehydration/starvation
Fin finds the mother, Manuela, all strung out and she slurs that she's their mother as she is arrested.
Case worker is upset about what happened and can't remember if he actually went to Manuela's because he was overworked. Manuela says it's Keisha's fault she was starving because she was crying and hadn't earned food.
Keisha dies and Benson says to Rollins that Manuela is a murderer.
Benson wants to prosecute the case worker for not having shown up for his visits properly, which would have saved the girl's life.
Benson and Sonny interview the case worker, Keith, and his supervisor. Notes say Keisha looked healthy two weeks ago. Supervisor claims drug addicted mother can cause sudden decline. Deputy Commissioner says they need a subpoena to see case files.
Rollins ran a statement analysis and found that Keith's reports have lacked detail for 4 months. His coworker started maternity leave at that time. Keith had backdated a bunch of reports and his supervisor signed off on them.
Benson got called to 1PP and Dodge thinks she is not following protocol. City Department of Investigation is supposed to do it.
Commissioner has a message that this is not a police matter. Benson is dismissed with congratulations for being on the Lieutenant's short list.
Barba does not work for 1PP and thus can, and does have a press conference about what happened. This is juxtaposed with Keith being arrested along with his supervisor, Ms. Grayson. The Deputy Commissioner is also arrested for manslaughter as well as a variety of misdemeanors such as obstruction.
Arraignment. Defense attorney claims political overreach. Barba wants $200,000 bail. Defense wants ROR. Bail set at $50,000.
Dodge is angry and orders Barba to plead the case out and threatens him. Barba says they will need leverage.
Manuela wants to be released for Keisha's funeral. She says when Bruno's dad got out of jail he moved back in. This was in May. She hasn't seen a caseworker since Easter. She says Philippe, Bruno and her were a happy family. But Keisha mouthed off to Philippe and she wasn't his kid so he locked her in a cage. Then 4th of July weekend he was shot and killed. Manuela fell apart and went back to drugs.
Keith feels guilty but is not admitting guilt. Sonny says Keith was under a ton of pressure, was overworked and his bosses tried to make him falsify reports. Defense attorney tells Barba he should be ashamed of using this tragedy to score political points and won't let Keith answer any more questions. Sonny warns Keith privately that he is lowest on the totem pole and will take the fall for everyone.
Sonny says the morning after Keisha died lots of falsfied reports were scanned in.
Benson's supervisor is mad she didn't back off. He also wants Rollins on desk duty because she is pregnant even though they are down a man.
Keith says his supervisor didn't let him do his work, said he was coddling, didn't want him to make all his visits. Defense says client has helpful info. Barba offers criminal negligent homicide. Attorney rejects plea and tells him to be quiet. But Keith says they have to know. Bosses ordered him on Saturday and made him file false reports re: Keisha right after her death. He was only case worker there and was forced to file lots and lots of false reports.
Barba's opening statement says Keisha was happy as of Christmas 2014, but was locked in a cage, battered and starved by August.
Defense says that the mother and case worker who took a plea are responsible.
Barba says this is a system wide failure and case workers were required to falsify reports. Defense tries to pin it all on case worker.
Doctor testifies that Keisha's condition took months to develop. Defense asks about triage, prioritizing. Asks if doctors ever make mistakes about priority and cause patient's death. Asks if that would be manslaughter.
Keith testifies Keisha was fine when he saw her and he's sorry he made the wrong choice. He was ordered to backdate and file false reports. He went along because he was threatened with going to prison for Keisha's death. He was put on probation for spending too much time with clients and it was lifted when he falsified paperwork.
Defense says Keith said he CHOSE not to make the visits. Supervisors did not tell him not to. Why didn't he file complaints? He says he wanted to keep his job. Defense says he only came forward when threatened with jail, maybe he was trying to pin it on supervisors.
Manuela is upset that she missed the funeral because her transportation was 3 hours late. She is allowed to see Bruno but is upset that she won't see him for 8 years, till he is almost grown up.
Ms. Grayson testifies that the reports showed the kids were safe. She doesn't make home visits and relied on Keith's reports. She wishes Keith had come to her sooner. Barba cross-examines and asks her about promotions and raises. She claims she believed Keith made all the visits and reports. She claims she asked him to come in because he was behind on paperwork and she wanted to walk him through chain of events. Claims that she knows nothing about other back dated reports. Another report had cigarette burns all over body but fine on paper, boy forced to drink bleach, etc. Barba asks if she is incompetent or if she falsified reports.
Grayson rants that nobody could do her job and if she goes the people judging her won't do it. The criminals they see... did they ever think about how they got that way? She claims that she is a scapegoat and tells them they should all look in the mirror because they just don't like or want to be bothered with poor and broken people like the ones she cares about.
Grayson is put in Bellevue for nervous breakdown. Keith realizes nothing really is going to change. He will not be able to work when he gets out and bosses not really punished.
Dodge comes to see Benson. He tells her they want a sergeant under her they trust so she can be promoted. He's putting his son in the position. He goes to see Rollins.