The air is cold, if it is mingled with exhaust from motor vehicles. It is a spring afternoon in New York City's Manhattan borough. Don Adler works to trim the bushes at a house near the Gramercy Park neighborhood. He had been doing groundskeeping ever since he was sixteen. He can still remember that summer day, trimming the trees in Central Park.
One of these days, my joints will be too busted up for this kind of work.
He hears approaching footsteps amidst the noise of the nearby traffic. He wonders if those are the footsteps of a robber. He dismisses the idea- it is too early and he had a pair of garden shears, giving him a six-foot reach.
Not that there aren't people crazy enough to try that.
He sees a dark-haired girl, with her hair and clothes disheveled.
"Victim's name is Rachel Goldstein," says Officer Frank Murphy of the New York City Police Department. "She's seventeen and she's a student at the Temple beth Ariel; it's a private girls' school."
"The tuition must be out of my salary range," says the dark-haired woman in the suit.
The uniformed police officer leads the two detectives into a room. Two people are in the room. One of them is a nurse in her early thirties. She has experience dealing with victims of sexual assault.
"She's under sedation," says the nurse. "She was really hysterical when she was brought here."
A man in a suit looks at the victim. She had dark hair, and looks really young. She is dressed in a plaid skirt, a white blouse, and a black coat.
"Rachel," says the man. "I'm Detective Elliot Stabler, and this is my partner, Detective Olivia Benson. We're from the Special Victims Unit. Could you tell us what happened?"
"They, they raped me," says the girl.
"Who?" asks Benson.
"This man raped me and these girls from the school helped him."
The two detectives take two seconds to take in what Rachel had said.
"Do you know those girls?" asks Stabler.
"One of them is…Lucy," she says, as if she is detached from the world.
"A groundskeeper working across the street found her," says Officer Murphy. "He called the police at about 3:45."
It is another afternoon for the two detectives. They work for the Special Victims Unit, which handles sex crime cases for the New York City Police Department. At about in the afternoon, their boss, Captain Don Cragen, had sent them to this hospital to interview a rape victim.
"Is she all right?" asks a female voice.
Stabler and Benson turn and see a middle-aged couple wearing dark clothing. They appear to be in their late forties to early fifties, and the man has a prominent long beard.
"No," replies Detective Benson.