Law & Order’s Public Service

Law & Order’s Public Service

Law & Order’s Public Service

The XX Factor
What Women Really Think
Aug. 13 2009 3:04 PM

Law & Order’s Public Service

In a horrifying case, a Philadelphia-area man has been sentenced to 120 years for producing child pornography. John Jackey Worman’s crimes were uncovered after one of his long-time victims (there were approximately a dozen, including at least one infant) went to authorities. What good soul helped her realize that she could-and should-speak up? Dick Wolf, apparently:

A teenager who had been abused for several years tipped off authorities, after watching an episode of Law & Order about child sexual abuse. She only then realized it had been wrong, Assistant U.S. Attorney Michelle Rotella said.
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No word on whether it was Special Victims Unit , Criminal Intent , or the original flavor of L&O . The franchise rightfully takes a lot of heat for being formulaic, sensational, repetitive. If the crime appears to have been solved by 40 minutes past the hour, well, the convicted individual is likely taking the heat for someone else (usually the person you’d least expect). The PSA-style of SVU often irritates me, particularly when the detectives, just sitting around the police department and discussing the latest heinous crime or head-shaking teenage trend, spout off "shocking" stats about rape or sexting or drug use as though they spend their downtime memorizing press releases from nonprofits and advocacy groups.

Apparently, for one teenager, Law & Order ’s heavy-handed attempts at education were successful and eventually led to getting a pedophile away from kids. But this does raise the question of how someone could reach her teen years without learning that message elsewhere. Apparently Worman’s girlfriends helped him procure victims, so it’s possible that the L&O watcher’s mother wasn’t exactly teaching her the difference between a good touch and a bad touch. Whatever the case, that’s some good PR for Law & Order , particularly given SVU ’s recent " message placement " partnership with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Torie Bosch is the editor of Future Tense, a project of Slate, New America, and Arizona State that looks at the implications of new technologies.