Hours turn into days, and with no word from Detective Benson, the SVU squad takes drastic measures to find her and her abductor . A trail of murders and rape victims leads them to fear it may be too late.
A young boy is abandoned in Times Square and leads the detectives to the house where his family lives. Inside they find a locked basement where more victims await rescue, and work to solve decades-old cold cases.
String of rapes on the Upper West Side raises concerns across the city, and while Detectives Tutuola and Rollins question everyone who fits the suspect's description, celebrity chef Jolene Castille fears she's the next victim when someone follows her home. The SVU arrests her for shooting and killing the unarmed teen, and her attorney faces off against ADA Barba in a trial that tests the limits of the jury's moral and legal responsibilities. Meanwhile, Detective Benson continues to struggle with the aftermath of her traumatic ordeal.
Officer Michael Groves ends up in a psych ward after turning on his old squad - he accuses the 12th precinct of cooking the books and making rape allegations disappear. Internal Affairs Lt. Tucker enlists the help of the SVU to investigate, and plants Brian Cassidy as an undercover. But one crooked cop goes to great lengths to keep things as they are, and the squad realizes too late that they put Cassidy in grave danger.
Sarah Walsh wakes up from a night of partying and believes she's been raped. In shock that it could happen again, she calls Detective Benson, who handled her previous rape case, for help. The search for sarah's attacker leads the cops to a smooth-talking cyber mogul who preys on vulnerable girls and bribes them for their silence. Meanwhile, the SVU comes together to say goodbye to the retiring Sergeant Munch.
When ADA Barba's childhood friend, Eddie Garcia, is arrested for attempted rape, his connection to mayoral frontrunner Alex Munoz puts the campaign in jeopardy. But when an undercover investigation uncovers further misconduct by Munoz himself, Detective Amaro and the SVU team wonder if Barba can put aside personal feelings to prosecute the men he used to idolize.
Singing coach Jackie Walker is at the height of his career, with a featured role on television's biggest reality show, "American Diva," and a steady position teaching music at a prestigious New York City school. When a four year-old student comes forward with claims of sexual abuse, Detective Rollins asks the squad to be mindful of Walker's reputation, but Benson's investigation uncovers evidence that condemns the popular personality. As the case becomes public, more and more victims come forward, but Walker refuses to come clean.
Junior officer Amelia Albers is arrested for DUI while on leave in New York City, but her ripped clothes and injuries lead the police to call Detective Benson for help. When a group of soldiers from her unit are named as suspects in her rape, Amelia refuses to cooperate with the SVU for fear of damage to her reputation in the military. When her commanding officer also hinders the investigation, Detective Amaro asks his ex-wife to dig up information on the case, and learns the grim reality that every female officer faces.
Detective Amanda Rollins helps her friend Lena Olson press charges against her lover when she accuses him of rape. But Lena's history with the suspect and her proclivity for rough sex makes the he-said she-said investigation too difficult to pursue. When the case escalates to murder, a dangerous love triangle is discovered and Rollins is forced to confess her private life on the stand.
'The Beast' returns when Detective Benson is forced to face Lewis in the courtroom, and the stress of reliving the attack causes setbacks in her recovery. With Lewis trying every trick in the book to continue his legal winning streak, Benson is forced to reveal some of the secrets she's kept about the ordeal.
Detectives Amaro and Rollins leave a party and stumble upon Officer McKenna in pursuit of a suspected drug dealer. A standoff leads to gunfire and the teenaged suspect is gravely wounded. While Amaro struggles to reconcile his by-the-book actions with his conscience, the SVU fights to keep Internal Affairs from jumping to conclusions. The case becomes a public spectacle and Amaro must decide if fighting for his badge is the best decision for his family. Meanwhile, Captain Cragen makes a surprise announcement.
The SVU teams up with federal prosecutor Connie Rubirosa after an underage runaway is found raped and beaten under the Highline. The sex trafficking investigation leads to New Jersey strip club owner Perry Cannavaro, who does all he can to keep the victim out of the SVU's jurisdiction. When ADA Barba fails to get the help he needs from Jersey law enforcement, he suspects a cover-up involving some high ranking court officials.
Sixteen year-old Avery Capshaw's parents report her kidnapped, and the SVU finds signs of a party turned violent. Her boyfriend, Manny Montero, is a scholarship student from the Projects, and though his family swears he's on the right track, Amaro suspects he's involved with a dangerous gang. When Manny refuses to talk, the cops are forced to arrest him, but the violence only escalates. Meanwhile, Benson is sworn in as the SVU's new sergeant.
Tom Moore arrives home from a business trip to find his young son, Nicky, missing from his bed. With a history of behavioral problems, the cops suspect he wandered off alone, and the search becomes more urgent as the diabetic boy's insulin pump runs out. But the investigation leads to something more dangerous when a criminal couple, known for child endangerment and pornography, is spotted with Nicky. With a child's life on the line, the cops try to turn one suspect against the other before it's too late. Meanwhile, a personal issue derails Sergeant Benson's current course.
Popular comedian Josh Galloway is faced with student protestors after a set at Tompkins Square University. His demeaning jokes about women and rape become more serious when a student is assaulted by two of Galloway's fans. Though Barba can't arrest him for speaking his mind, he charges the SVU to find proof that Galloway's actions reflect his words. When TSU student Carly Rydell accuses Galloway of rape, Sergeant Benson is happy to arrest him. But Barba finds major roadblocks in the he-said she-said case, and thinks Benson should have chosen her battle more carefully. Meanwhile, a detective from Chicago seeks help from the NYPD.
High school football star Cedric Jones goes missing in New York City, and his uncle seeks help from their hometown friend, Detective Rollins. Though already committed to attending Georgia Tech, Cedric nevertheless accepted a free weekend recruiting trip from Hudson University's football team. When the cops find him in jail, they suspect the truth may have led to a cruel prank that spiraled out of control. Sgt. Benson's investigation into the football team and its popular coach uncovers several victims of abuse, prejudice and hazing. Meanwhile, Rollins turns to an old friend to help deal with her escalating troubles.
Detective Amanda Rollins' addiction drives her to an illegal gambling club, where waitress Clare Wilson recognizes her as a cop. To protect her job, Rollins strikes a deal with the club managers to make their illegal transgressions disappear. But when the debt isn't paid to their liking, she doubles down and loses, forcing Sergeant Benson and Detective Tutuola to suspect one of their own of an unthinkable crime.
Renowned New York Ledger columnist Jimmy MacArthur is given full access to Sergeant Benson and the squad for an inside look at the city's Special Victims Unit. When the rape case of a young Muslim woman escalates to a hate crime, Jimmy stays one step ahead of the investigation and declares the entire crime a hoax. With the victim under fierce public scrutiny, Benson struggles to keep the case on solid ground and fears a rapist will go free.
Single mom Jenny Aschler is arrested for child endangerment. Not trusting anyone to take care of her young daughter Maddie, she instead leaves her home alone for days. Jenny's fierce motherly instincts and fear of men leads Sergeant Benson to suspect she may have been a victim of child abuse. With help from Dr. Lindstrom, Jenny recovers deeply repressed memories of violence, rape and neglect.
The sadistic William Lewis escapes from prison, arbitrarily killing as he goes. Concerned for Benson's safety, a security detail is assigned to her 24/7, but it doesn't take long for Lewis to get her back where he left off. With time running out, Benson must decide how much she's willing to sacrifice in order to save the life of a child.
In the moments after William Lewis' death, Sergeant Benson is rescued by the SVU squad, but her torment continues. The Internal Affairs investigation of her actions is deemed inconclusive, and with no evidence to corroborate her story, Prosecutor Derek Strauss convenes a grand jury and calls for Benson's arrest. With increasing pressure from Lt. Tucker and Lt. Murphy to save herself any way she can, Benson must choose between her convictions and her badge.
Benson and Murphy question renowned television producer Frank Maddox when he's accused of molesting his 8 year-old daughter Chelsea. Maddox's estranged wife, actress Catherine Summers, wants justice for her daughter but refuses to cooperate, leading the cops to suspect the accusation was a ploy to win the public's favor. With Catherine's young sister Rose engaged to Maddox and accusations flying back and forth in the media, Benson strives to help a child by discovering the truth.
Under the guidance of Lieutenant Murphy, Sergeant Benson and the SVU take an active approach to catching sex offenders - they target Simon Wilkes, a well-regarded photographer with a secret life. An undercover investigation finds his graphic fantasies may have crossed the line into reality, at a child's expense. But the case becomes impossible when no evidence of a victim is found.
Amaro's recklessness once again makes him the target of Internal Affairs, and he has no choice but to face the consequences. With his professional and personal life at risk, he looks to his friend John Munch for advice. Meanwhile, an online ad for escorts leads to the rape and robbery of several male tourists, and one of the suspects has a surprising connection to Sergeant Benson that may change her life forever.