NBC’s Law & Order: Special Victims Unit is known for its “ripped from the headlines” plots, and the show’s most recent episode is staying true to that reputation. The long-running series recently returned to television for its 21st season with an episode titled “Down Low In Hell’s Kitchen,” which was inspired by Jussie Smollett’s alleged attack and the events that followed, according to a report from Pop Culture.
The episode, which aired on October 10, began with Captain Olivia Benson, played by Mariska Hargitay, chatting on the phone about a serial predator targeting gay black men in Hell’s Kitchen. During the conversation, Benson said there have been multiple attacks, but none of the victims were willing to come forward to report the incidents.
Benson then asks Sergeant Fin Tutuola, played by Ice-T, to reach out to his son Ken, a social worker who works within the LGBTQ community, to gather information on the reluctant victims. It’s later revealed that the victims are afraid to report the incident because they’re all living double lives and aren’t ready to admit their sexuality.
In the midst of gathering information about the victims, Benson is informed of a fourth attack involving a famous singer named Mathis Banks, played by L. Steven Taylor. Mathis claims he was attacked while walking under a scaffolding after leaving a gay bar.
Like the other victims, Mathis claimed he was attacked from behind, tased, and then sodomized with an empty beer bottle. However, the singer also made claims that directly contradicted the statements of the other victims, and this led the police department to start questioning the validity of Mathis’ claims.
It was later discovered that Mathis’ brother had purchased a taser on the night of the alleged attack, and the singer was unable to identify the attacker during a police lineup. The case then comes under national scrutiny and quickly begins to gain attention outside of New York City.
Eventually, Mathis’ entire story falls apart after conversations with his brother and manager. It seems a popular gossip site had been threatening to out the singer as a gay man, so he decided to orchestrate the attack on himself to paint himself as a victim.
According to his manager, Mathis figured his fans and the rest of the public would focus more on his victimhood and bravery than on the fact that he was gay. But despite the evidence against him, Mathis continued to insist that he was attacked and his claims were factual.
While Smollett’s alleged attack did not involve sexual assault, the Empire actor did claim his attack was carried out by two men yelling racist and homophobic slurs while putting a noose around his neck and dumping a substance on him.
Smollett claimed the attack took place on January 29 in Chicago, as previously reported by The Inquisitr. After carrying out an investigation, the Chicago Police Department accused the actor of staging the attack in an attempt to get a raise on his television show.
In February, Smollett was arrested and was later indicted on 16 felony counts related to filing a false police report. The charges against the actor were ultimately dropped in exchange of him forfeiting his $10,000 bond and completing community service.
Law & Order: Special Victims Unit airs on Thursdays on NBC.