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Sometimes boys just need to talk to a man.
~ Barnett justifying his sexual abuse of boys.

Roy Jonathan Burnett is the main antagonist of the Law & Order: Special Victims Unit episode "Guilt". He is a pedophile who preys on adolescent boys, eventually driving one of his victims to molest children himself and another to attempt suicide.

He was portrayed by Beau Gravitte.


Barnett has molested and raped at least 100 adolescent boys over several years. His M.O. is to befriend vulnerable boys - from single-parent families, shy, lonely, sexually confused, etc. - by posing as a big brother or father figure, and groom them for abuse by talking about sex and showing them pornography before finally abusing them. By then, his victims are so confused and filled with self-hatred that they don't report him. He also videotapes the abuse, and sends his victims copies to further confuse and manipulate them.

Once his victims outgrow his age preference, he manipulates them into bringing younger boys to "hang out" with him. One of his victims, Benjamin Tucker, grows up to become a child molester in his own right.

Barnett was caught a few times, but always managed to avoid prison by pleading to misdemeanor charges and agreeing to undergo therapy. During his therapy sessions, Barnett derived sexual pleasure by listening to his fellow molesters' stories of abusing their victims. The last therapist to try to help him realized that Barnett was an unrepentant predator whom no amount of therapy would change.

He began abusing Sam Cavanaugh when Sam was 12, and the abuse continued for four years until Sam finally told his mother, Linda, what Barnett was doing to him. Linda went to the NYPD's Special Victims Unit, who began investigating Barnett under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Alexandra Cabot.


Cabot organizes a sting operation in which Sam, while wearing a wire, is to get Barnett to incriminate himself. Sam is confused by feelings of loyalty to Barnett, however, and tells him to run. He does, but the SVU detectives arrest him. Barnett claims that his relationship with Sam is completely innocent and that his prior convictions were "misunderstandings", but Detectives Olivia Benson and Elliot Stabler see him for what he really is and resolve to make sure he goes to prison.

Cabot, meanwhile, tries to guide an increasingly fragile Sam through the process of testifying against Barnett. The pressure proves to be too much for Sam, who breaks down and calls Barnett, still struggling with his ambivalent feelings about his abuser. Barnett coldly rebuffs Sam and hangs up on him, which pushes Sam over the edge - he takes an overdose of aspirin that leaves him in a permanent coma.

Wracked with guilt, Cabot tries to salvage the case against Barnett, but with her main witness incapacitated, it looks increasingly likely that he will escape justice yet again. Determined to punish him, Cabot ultimately violates legal ethics by sending Benson and Stabler to search Linda Kavanaugh's house for Barnett's child porn tapes without securing a warrant, without the detectives' knowledge. She then uses a legal technicality to make sure the tapes are admitted into evidence. Cabot is reprimanded by the trial judge and her boss, Bureau Chief Elizabeth Donnelly, who suspends her without pay for a month, but Barnett is nevertheless charged with and convicted of multiple felony counts of child molestation and child pornography. He is then presumably imprisoned for life.

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