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The expression on a girl's face her first time is incomparable... Their faces were palettes. Shock, confusion, panic, fear, and always just a soupçon of pain.
~ Ballentine reveling in inflicting pain on his victims.

Henry Palaver, better known as under his false identity of Sebastian Ballentine, is the main antagonist of the Law & Order: Special Victims Unit episode "Pure". He is a serial rapist and con artist who tricks people into believing he is a psychic to swindle them out of their money, funding a propensity of driving around and raping virgin girls and women while conspiring with his wife.

He was portrayed by Martin Short, who also portrayed The Jester and The Appraiser in Legends of Oz: Dorothy's Return, Huy in The Prince of Egypt, Ooblar in Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius, Preminger in Barbie as The Princess and the Pauper, Jack Frost in The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause, and Mr. Wiloughby in The Wiloughbys.


Early life

Ballentine is really Henry Palaver, a Canadian ex-con who served five years in prison for kidnapping and raping a 14-year-old girl. He is obsessed with virginal girls, taking sadistic pleasure in the pain and fear he inflicts upon them by raping them, which he sees from their faces.

While he was in prison, he corresponded with a woman named Carlene via a prison pen pal program, and manipulated her into falling in love with him. They got married while Ballentine was still in prison, and she abstained from sex for two years until he was released. On their wedding night, he realized that she was not a virgin and couldn't perform. He refuses to her touch from then on, meaning that he has never had sex with his own wife.

Desperate to please her husband, Carlene started helping him kidnap virginal girls and women, mostly runaways, so he could rape them. Sebastian raped around twelve women and girls in such a pattern with Carlene assisting in the kidnappings. Eventually, Carlene murdered a pregnant woman and cut her child out of her womb so they could raise the child as "Henry Jr." in the vain hope that having a family would convince him to stop his rape spree.

Once out of prison, Palaver changed his name to Sebastian Ballentine and starting conning people by pretending to be psychic. He became an expert in reading people's expressions and telling them what he intuited they wanted to hear.


With Carlene's help, Ballentine kidnaps and rapes a teenage girl named Kaley Sellars, and leaves an obscene message on her mother's answering machine bragging about hurting the girl. When her mother holds a press conference to ask for help in rescuing her, Ballentine goes to the Special Victims Unit precinct claiming to have had a psychic vision of Kaley being kidnapped in order to enjoy the chaos he has created. Detective Elliot Stabler takes an immediate dislike to Ballentine, and throws him out.

Later that day, Ballentine cons Kaley's mother into believing that he has a psychic link to Kaley, provoking another confrontation with Stabler. Nevertheless, he hangs around the station claiming to be able to find her with his "gift", much to the annoyance of Stabler and the other detectives. After they learn that Kaley was auctioning off her virginity online, and then find her strangled to death in a place resembling one of Ballentine's "visions", however, they become suspicious that he is somehow involved in the crime.

Stabler's partner, Detective Olivia Benson, tries to trip Ballentine up by doing a psychic reading and pretending to have an unfaithful husband, but he sees through it. Meanwhile, Carlene shows up at the precinct with Henry Jr. in tow, looking for her husband. The usually unflappable Ballentine is shaken by her unexpected presence, and angrily tells her to leave. Later that day, Sister Peg, a nun and social worker who frequently works with SVU, is kidnapped from her church, with the kidnapper leaving behind Kaley's clothes to taunt the detectives.

Ballentine and Carlene are arrested for trespassing at a closed car wash while hosing down their van, arousing the detectives' suspicion that they murdered Kaley and kidnapped Sister Peg. Stabler interrogates Ballentine while Benson talks to Carlene, as they gradually unravel the couple's lies after finding Ballentine's criminal record and Henry Jr.'s missing person report. Finally caught, Ballentine gloats about raping Kaley and conning her mother, while Carlene admits to killing Kaley out of jealousy and kidnapping Sister Peg so Ballentine could fulfill his fantasy of raping a virginal nun. Ballentine tries in vain to get a plea deal by putting all the blame on Carlene, and heartlessly washes his hands of her when she begs him to stay with her.

Fortunately, the detectives find Sister Peg, alive and only slightly injured, and Ballentine and Carlene are arrested for rape, kidnapping, and murder. The Canadian government tries to extradite Ballentine for a series of rapes he committed there, but Stabler swears to him that he will do everything possible to keep him locked up in New York. In response, Ballentine sneers that he has "grown on" Stabler before he is imprisoned.

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