In the season 16 premiere, Sergeant Benson juggles work and her new role as foster mother to baby Noah Porter. Amaro, now working the traffic beat in Queens, arrests an underage prostitute with connections to Noah's mother Ellie, who was "greenlit" by her pimp and brutally murdered. Amaro's undercover work sets off a chain of events that puts everyone connected to the case - even baby Noah - in danger. Meanwhile, a new detective assigned to Manhattan SVU starts off on the wrong foot.
Basketball superstar Shakir "The Shark" Wilkins announces his partnership with the Orion Bay clothing line, owned by billionaire Orion Bauer and his daughter Cordelia. But the SVU intervenes when Orion press rep Carla Cannon tells reporters she was raped by Wilkins. When more women come forward, Benson and Detective Carisi disagree on the authenticity of each woman's story, and Barba takes a shaky case to court. Meanwhile, the case takes Rollins to her former precinct in Atlanta, where ex-colleagues bring up old memories.
Amaro reports to the scene of a car crash where Hollywood starlet Tensley Evans tries to flirt her way out of an arrest. Amaro's by-the-book handling of the situation gets him back on the SVU squad, just in time to investigate Tensley's latest offense - the statutory rape of a 15 year-old boy. But Benson suspects that underlying issues may have led to Tensley's downward spiral - is the victimizer also a victim?
New York City bike messenger Holden March creates a video diary of his troubles with women. Talk soon escalates to action, and the SVU scrambles to find his manifesto before he commits another violent act. When Rollins and Amaro come face to face with Holden, they find out just how dangerous a desperate man can be. Meanwhile, as Benson balances the responsibilities of motherhood and career, the new Deputy Chief of SVU calls her leadership into question.
Evie Barnes answers a modeling ad hoping to make some cash for tuition, but the job quickly spirals into online pornography. When her classmates discover her double life, they cross the boundary between fiction and reality. Even though she's not the one on trial, Evie is forced to prove her innocence in court.
Best friends Perry Gilbert and Mia Harris sneak into the woods with Mia's young sister Zoe in tow. Their search for the mythical Glasgowman leads to a series of violent events, leaving Zoe gravely injured and the other girls missing. While Detectives Rollins and Carisi work to locate the suspect, Sgt. Benson digs through the stories to distinguish fantasy from reality.
Sergeant Hank Voight and Detectives Erin Lindsay and Jay Halstead track a child pornography victim to his last-known whereabouts in New York City, where Sergeant Benson and the SVU squad get a new lead - evidence of a livestreamed pornography "club" that caters to its subscriber's shocking requests. When Lindsay discovers someone from her past is involved, she hopes it will help lead them to the site's ringleader, but tensions between Voight and Benson could threaten the case.
Detective Tutuola comes across leaked security footage of a violent domestic dispute in a parking garage, showing sportscaster A.J. Martin hit his girlfriend Paula. While Fin and Benson investigate the couple's lifestyle and history, Paula pushes back to keep her relationship and family intact. Benson turns to ADA Barba for help to convince Paula that her world doesn't have to revolve around A.J. Meanwhile, the case has an interesting effect on Rollins and Amaro's relationship.
When a series of young, petite girls are assaulted in the early morning hours, Detective Rollins matches the pattern to several rapes she worked in Atlanta. When she finds that the victims' rape kits were never tested, Atlanta SVU Chief Patton claims none of the cases were worth pursuing. Intense media scrutiny and the lack of a suspect brings the heat down on Sgt. Benson, who has to face Chief Dodds and their commanders in a CompStat briefing. Meanwhile, a family court judge threatens to remove baby Noah from Benson's care.
Atlanta's Deputy Chief Charles Patton and his newest detective, Reese Taymor visit New York for a law enforcement conference. When Reese is found unconscious in her hotel bathroom, she cries rape at the scene but changes her story when Sgt. Benson arrives. When Rollins uncovers a personal connection to the suspect, ADA Barba seeks her help in the courtroom and she's forced to confront the demons of her past to stop a dangerous predator.
Fifteen year-old Madison Baker sneaks out of her uncle's home to meet breakout movie star Scott Russo, who invited her to a party via social media. Later that night, a patrolman finds her in an alley, sexually assaulted and barely alive. Sgt. Benson suspects Russo and his manager, Lydia Lebasi, are covering up the crime when security footage from the party goes missing. When gossip site mogul Lenny Simmons airs the stolen footage, he refuses to give up the source material and ADA Barba takes him to court to find the truth.
Amaro's father, Nicolas, asks his estranged family to attend his marriage to 28-year-old Gabriella Nunez, and despite their volatile past, all but Amaro agree. When a fight breaks out at the wedding and Nicolas is put in handcuffs, Amaro becomes a witness in a case that could expose family secrets and tear his family apart.
Benson and Rollins find a teenaged girl crying in the street, her clothes torn. Jenna Davis says she was raped in a pizzeria bathroom by Jerome Jones. Jones has a criminal record as well as a pending lawsuit against the NYPD, but with little evidence to go on, the SVU releases him until an arrest can be made. With emotions running high, Jenna's father takes the law into his own hands with a decision that will change their lives forever.
Video game developer Raina Punjabi solidifies the launch of her first game amid a stream of online insults, intimidation and death threats from the male-dominated gaming community. When a female employee is assaulted at a gamer convention, Detective Tutuola investigates the crime but Raina refuses to delay the launch, and the cops must "level up" to protect her.
Working undercover to bust a sex trafficking ring, Det. Carisi stumbles upon Martha Thornhill, a mother who has embedded herself as a Madame in the organization for three years in hopes of finding and saving her daughter, Ariel. Martha joins forces with the SVU and they work together to bust the pimp and his cohorts, but Ariel is still missing. Meanwhile, Sgt. Benson is confronted with a harsh revelation that will change her life forever.
Celebrity author Walter Briggs is the focus of a feud between his sixth wife, Charmaine, and his daughters from previous marriages (guest stars Emily Bergl and Susan Pourfar). The fight over control for both his well-being and his estate becomes a criminal case when Charmaine is accused of abusing her husband. Meanwhile, Barba struggles with his own family drama when he goes against his grandmother's wishes.
Detective Carisi's sister Bella prepares for her wedding to fiancé Tommy Sullivan and the upcoming birth of their child. But when Tommy falls back into bad habits and accuses his parole officer of rape, Carisi must investigate whether the claim is real or just another one of Tommy's excuses.
Popular television host Skip Peterson airs an interview with college student Heather Manning, who claims she was gang raped in a fraternity house. While the tragic account of Heather's story brings national attention to the epidemic of rape on campus, the sensational details of the she-said, they-said case leaves Sgt. Benson and ADA Barba with several suspects and a rocky trial.
Pornographic photos from 15 year-old Savannah Biel's house party quickly circulate around her Tribeca high school and go viral. Barba's efforts to arrest the student responsible for posting the images is stalled when several suspects fall victim to a fast-moving measles outbreak. When Benson's foster son also catches the illness, she investigates a group of mothers who may have falsified their children's medical records. Meanwhile, Amaro receives some distressing news about his son.
Benson and Voight lead their teams in the investigation of a rape/murder case that is frighteningly similar to a case from New York a decade ago. When forced to release their main suspect, the Chicago PD joins the SVU in New York in pursuit of Yates.
Bayard Ellis takes on the case of a man incarcerated for incest and rape, whose daughter Michelle, the victim and star witness when she was a child, wants to recant her testimony and set her father free. When a judge refuses to reopen the 17 year old case, the SVU turns to retired Captain Cragen, who remembers the investigation and provides evidence that could change the convict's fate.
Year-old Owen Farhidi disappears from school and his mother Dana receives a ransom request. When surveillance footage shows that Owen recognized his abductor, Detective Amaro works with Dana and her ex-husband Sam to find and arrest the suspect, but tensions between the estranged couple obstructs the investigation. Meanwhile, Sgt. Benson is asked to take the Lieutenant's exam to formally take the lead over her squad.
Sgt. Benson and ADA Barba take Johnny D to trial for sex trafficking, rape, assault and kidnapping. But when Baby Noah's adoption becomes entangled in the case, Benson fears for Noah's future and his safety. In an intense courtroom showdown, the SVU will face a threat that could change the squad forever.