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What doesn't kill you...

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It was exactly the kind of case Tony hated. The kind of case all of them hated.

In itself, it was nothing they hadn't already seen far too often. For nearly three months, a serial rapist had scoured bars which were usually frequented by Navy personnel and the profile of the victims was always the same: young women, single, attractive and with posts of responsibility in the Navy or the Marines.

The modus operandi was also similar for every case: always acting when the places were overcrowded, the rapist spotted his potential victim and initiated conversation. After making sure she wasn't accompanied and wasn't expecting anyone, he took advantage of the crowd to pour a dose of GHB in her drink. When the victim began to lose her coordination and to look drunk, all he had to do was to play the Good Samaritan and offer to call her a cab to take her home. Once outside the bar, it was too late. The victim, completely helpless, was loaded into a car and taken to an isolated place where her attacker raped her repeatedly, before she was finally abandoned, in the early morning, near the bar where she had been abducted.

At least five victims had dared to press charges and there was no doubt they were dealing with the same man. Although, none of the victims had been able to give a precise description of the man who had approached them, all were adamant that they would be able to recognize him if they saw him again.

The perp had left no trace of semen behind him, but after several weeks of investigation - and thanks to the work done by Abby on some fiber samples taken from the victim's clothes - they had finally tracked down a suspect: Petty Officer 3rd class Andrew Wells.

A quick research in the past had revealed that Wells was a mediocre officer and not well liked by his superiors. He was also a misogynist who had a bad habit of blaming his failures on the women around him, both personally and professionally.

During the search of Wells' apartment, the team had found a very extensive collection of porn videos, most featuring simulated rape scenes, but also a notebook, carefully taped beneath a dresser drawer, wherein Wells listed what he probably regarded as his 'conquests', sorted by date and embellished with scores ranging from one to five stars.

Besides the five known victims, it also included the names of other potential past victims, over a period spanning more than two years, with the addition of one more alleged victim, whose aggression likely went back a few days, but by whom no complaint had been lodged.

At this point in the investigation, the case seemed to be wrapped up, and all they needed was a confession from Wells in order to lock him away for decades.

Unfortunately, nothing happened as planned.

Against all odds, Wells hadn't tried to deny the evidence of his presence near the victims. On the contrary, he admitted to meeting with them and even flirting with them, but according to him, without it going any further than small talk over a drink.

In spite of the hours spent grilling him in turn, neither threats nor the promise of a deal had deflected him from his well-rehearsed story and for lack of any witness able to testify that Wells had left the premises with the victims, they were going round in circles.

No trace of physical restraint had been found on the victims and the testing for GHB in their blood had turned out to be non-significant. Therefore, it had been decided to hold an identification parade, in order to verify the victims' testimonies - that he had indeed approached, and then dragged them away without their consent.

Of course, this would be their word against his before the court, but it was better than nothing.

Alas, it was at this time that things had really turned into a disaster.

Indeed, contrary to the most elementary common sense and to the most basic rules of procedure, an obscure clerk from JAG had had the brilliant idea to put the five victims of Wells in the same waiting room, before they proceeded in turn to his identification. Obviously, Well's counsel had screamed procedural irregularity and immediately overturned all the testimonies and results of the identification.

Needless to say that after that, they had been left with almost nothing in their file, with the exception of some textile fibers and some epithelial cells on a jacket sleeve, which proved nothing more than what Wells had already admitted.

Now, all that remained was one hope to bring Andrew Wells down and prevent him to attack other women. One hope to erase the little smirk he had been wearing without shame since his lawyer had told him about the invalidation of the testimonies.

One hope which was currently sitting in front of Lieutenant Meyers from JAG, in one of the Navy Yard interrogation rooms: the latest victim of Wells and the only one they had been able to identify from his notebook: Lieutenant Mary Carson.

To be continued