Three weeks later, Rhea was still in ICU. Olivia and Alex took turns staying with her and Benjamin came to visit when he could. Rhea still hadn't said a word.
Alex was working at hard as she could to prosecute Jordan. This was a unique case in that it didn't depend on the victim's testimony; Jordan had been caught red-handed by the detectives. That should have made it easier, but in fact, it did the opposite. Having to go over and over what had happened to the little girl she'd come to care so much about was downright painful.
Alex went to visit Rhea the day before the trial. "Do you want to be there?" she asked. Even though Alex didn't believe it was a good idea, she thought it might be good for Rhea to have some closure, to see that Jordan would be gone forever and would never hurt Rhea or Benjamin ever again.
"Okay," Alex said. "Olivia can bring you."
So the next morning, Rhea was sitting in the courtroom in a new blue dress, clutching Olivia's hand.
They listened to Elliot's testimony and Olivia testified herself. Both of the detectives made sure to explain how traumatized Rhea was and how she'd stopped talking. The jury seemed sympathetic. Ms. Bradley testified about the abuse that had gone on as well.
Then it was Jordan's turn. His attorney, Samuel Jarvis, approached the witness stand and asked the routine questions. Then he said, "Jordan, do you love Rhea?"
Jordan nodded. "She's like my own daughter. I love her more than anything."
Rhea put her hands over her mouth and swallowed hard.
"Are you okay?" Olivia whispered. The little girl nodded.
"Did you see your stepdaughter any time after the restraining order was enacted?" asked Jarvis.
"Yes," said Jordan. "She called me from the school, upset, the day she went missing. She said she missed me and wanted to see me again."
"She said the detective kept telling all these lies about me and was being cruel to her. She said she was scared."
"How was this detective being cruel to her?"
"She was trying to make her testify about bad things I'd done to her, which never happened."
"But why was she scared?" pressed the attorney.
"She said the detective had hit her," said Jordan.
"Sorry, could you tell me which detective this was?"
Jordan tried to hide his smirk. "Olivia Benson." He pointed. "Right there."
Olivia opened her mouth in shock. There was nothing to say to such an outlandish accusation.
"So you're saying that Olivia Benson pushed Rhea to say things about you that were untrue, and she did this by hurting your stepdaughter?"
"Objection!" cried two voices in unison.
Alex turned to see where the sound was coming from. Rhea had leapt to her feet. "You are a liar!" she spat.
"Rhea," said Olivia, surprised and pleased that she was talking again yet knowing this could jeopardize the case.
"No," said Rhea, yanking her arm out of Olivia's grasp. "Let me talk."
"Your Honor," said Jarvis. "Remove this child from the courtroom immediately."
The judge waved away the objection.
Rhea looked frightened for a moment, then said, "I want to tell you what happened."
The judge nodded. "Come up here, sweetheart."
"Your Honor!" protested the attorney. "This is a blatant attempt –"
"Shut up!" snapped the judge. "I want to hear it from Rhea herself."
Rhea took a deep breath and made her way to the front of the courtroom. Her hands were shaking as she faced the jury.
"Go on, Rhea," whispered Alex.
"He took me from my school," said Rhea. "He picked me up. I didn't want to go, but my French teacher said I had to, and he carried me out of there. There wasn't anything I could do."
She shot a nervous glance at Olivia, who gave her an encouraging nod.
Rhea continued her tale of horrors. "He brought me to the karate school. He'd built this – this dungeon. He forced me down there." She started shaking again but hurried on. "He didn't give me anything to eat or drink. He came down between classes. He hit me. He raped me. Over and over. He told me he was going to kill me. He said I'd never see Benjamin or Olivia or Alex ever again, that he would hurt them, kill them all for helping me if I ever said a word. So I didn't. I didn't say a word. But now, I can't keep quiet anymore." She looked right at the judge. "If I keep quiet, he'll do it again. I thought I was safe, but I won't be safe until he's gone."
"Thank you, Rhea," said the judge, slightly chocked up. "You can go sit back down, okay?"
Rhea nodded and ran toward Olivia, who hugged her and lifted her into her arms. "Let's go sit outside," she whispered.
Rhea nodded and Olivia carried her out into the hallway. They sat down, not speaking, but taking comfort in each other's presence. Olivia was just so glad that Rhea was talking again and Rhea was just so glad to be with Olivia.
When the jurors returned a guilty verdict, the whole courtroom let out a collective sigh. It was over for good now. No one could hurt Rhea now. She would be safe forever.