NBC Insider Exclusive

Create a free profile to get unlimited access to exclusive show news, updates, and more!

Sign Up For Free to View
NBC Insider Law & Order Franchise

What Happened to Pastor Gregory Eldon on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit?

The character, played by Ryan Devlin, preached purity to a famous reality TV family, but then assaulted their daughters.

By Megan Carpentier

On Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, the squad led by Olivia Benson (Mariska Hargitay) investigates any number of sexually-based offenses — including some committed against children. And, as with most child sexual abuse cases in real life, the perpetrators of many of those crimes are people in the children's immediate circle.

How to Watch

Watch the Season 26 premiere of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Thursday, October 3 at 9/8c on NBC.

In Season 17, Episode 7 ("Patrimonial Burden"), the victim was a 13-year-old girl from a conservative religious family who found out during a trip to New York City to pledge to remain abstinent until marriage that she was actually already pregnant.

After a series of other suspects had to be discarded, the squad found out that the man who had victimized the girl was her family's pastor — and that he had at least one other victim.

Who was Pastor Eldon on SVU?

Pastor Gregory Eldon (Ryan Devlin) was a lawyer and a leader in an insular Christian religious community in the (fictional) town of Allenville, New York in SVU Season 17, Episode 7 ("Patrimonial Burden").

Eldon led mission trips at the church at which the 10-member Baker family worshipped, as seen on their reality show 13akers Dozen. Detective Amanda Rollins (Kelly Giddish), who had watched the show, compared them to the Duggar family, the real-life reality show family from a religious community in Arkansas.

His father was the lead minister for the community.

Pastor Gregory Eldon on Law and Order SVU Episode 1707

What did Pastor Eldon do on SVU?

Eldon raped and impregnated two members of the Baker family when they were too young to consent: Lane Baker (Victoria Leigh), who was 13 in the episode, and Summer Baker (Bridget McGarry), who was 12 at the time of her pregnancy and 15 in the episode.

Lane's assault were discovered after the family went to New York City to attend a "virtue ball" — the show's version of a purity ball, which made national news in 2014 after photographer David Magnusson released his book, Purity — for her and she collapsed. Doctors at the hospital discovered she was pregnant and, due to her age, called in the SVU.

Eldon and Lane's parents, Pam (Geneva Carr) and Frank Baker (Christopher Sieber), wanted to return to Allenville and alert the police there, where they suggested the underlying crime would've been committed.

But Rollins discovered that, around the time Lane would've gotten pregnant, she had been on a mission trip in Harlem to paint over graffiti, accompanied by Eldon, Frank, her older sister Tymber, her 11-year-old brother Parky, her 17-year-old brother Graham (Angus O'Brien), and the show's camera crew, led by Pete Matthews (Chris Elliot).

Lane at first accused Matthews of being the father, but he'd had a vasectomy 10 years prior. He also had footage of Graham sexually assaulting the family's young piano teacher and evidence that the local judge in Allenville — who was also a church elder — had allowed the family to send Graham to an evangelical camp in Canada after teen faced multiple sexual assault charges in town.

But when the squad went to question Graham, they learned that Eldon had sent him to work at a mission in Ecuador. That is when Rollins pointed out that Pam's pregnancy with the youngest Baker, Tate (age 2), hadn't been announced on the show until Pam was seven months along, and he arrived only 11 months after the next-youngest Baker child, which was unusual for the Bakers. Pam also wasn't showing when she would have been at six months, and she and Summer were absent from the season finale that year.

DNA tests proved that Frank was Tate's maternal grandfather — i.e., that Tate was the child of one of Frank's daughters — but that the boy was not the product of incest. And nine months before Tate was born, Eldon had taken Summer to Harlem to hand out gifts to underprivileged children.

Sgt. Mike Dodds appears in a scene from Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.

What did Pastor Eldon say on SVU when accused of fathering a child with a 13-year-old?

Sergeants Odafin Tutuola (Ice T) and Mike Dodds (Andy Karl) went to the mission in Harlem to confront Eldon with the fact that he had been with Lane at the mission in Harlem when she'd gotten pregnant.

"So that's where you're going with this," Eldon said.

"Any reason why we shouldn't?" Fin asked.

"Respect. Basic human decency," the pastor replied. "That's not to say I don't understand where you're coming from. People like the Bakers and me, we scare you with the values that we espouse, our faith. You live in Gomorrah. When men of God come here and preach love for the Scripture, it threatens you people to the core."

"You think this is religious persecution?" Dodds asked.

"Well, you said it, not me," Eldon replied. "But I have seen it before. Every time I leave New York, I think, 'Just keep going. Don't look back.' But there's too much work to be done. Too many souls to minister to."

"Like you ministered to Lane," Fin stated.

"OK, I've had enough of this," Eldon said, moving to leave — and yet not denying the implied accusation. But that was when Fin and Dodd served him with a warrant for his DNA.

It turned out to be a match for Tate, the youngest Baker child.

Sergeant Tutuola (Ice T) appears in Season 25 Episode 7 of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.

What happened when Pastor Eldon was arrested on SVU?

When Fin and Dodds went to the Harlem mission to arrest Eldon, another church member told them that he'd left early that morning.

He was back in Allenville, standing at the courthouse before the town judge who had covered up Graham's sexual assaults to marry Lane with the permission of her parents. 

"She turned 14 today," Eldon told Benson and Sonny Carisi (Peter Scanavino) who had come to arrest him. (Children between the ages of 14 and 17 could marry with parental permission in New York state until 2017, according to NBC News, and the state only banned all marriages by minors in 2021. The episode aired in 2015.) "It's perfectly legal: I have the approval of Judge Barnes and both of her parents."

The Bakers explained that they had given their permission for Eldon to "help" by marrying Lane and providing for her and her child.

"Lane is just a girl," said Pam Baker. "It'll be in name only. He'll be like a father to her."  

"Is that what the pastor told you?" Benson asked.

Eldon then tried to ask the detectives to leave and Pam piped up again.

"We are handling this, officers," she said. "Graham will get the help he needs and Pastor Eldon will give Lane's baby a name."

"That's fitting, since he's the father," Carisi said. "Pretty good, Pastor, huh? You figure you could marry Lane, it'd be pretty hard for us to prosecute you for statutory rape." (In 2015, New York state law defined any sexual intercourse with a person between the ages of 13 and 15 by an adult as rape in the second degree.)

"It's legal," Eldon replied. "She's legal. You have no standing here."

"Wait, what are you talking about?" asked Pam.

Benson explained that Graham hadn't fathered either Lane or Summer's babies, to which Pam repeated that Summer had never had a baby. Benson explained that they'd tested Tate's DNA and knew that neither Frank and Graham could be his father.

Eldon interrupted again to say that Tate's DNA would not be admissible in court and to have the judge oust Benson and Carisi from the courthouse, while advising the Bakers to stop talking. Benson, however, told Pam that they did test Eldon's DNA and discovered that he was Tate's father.

"Frank, you told me Graham confessed," said Pam.

"I did, just not to me," said Frank, looking with concern and shock at Eldon.

"Did Pastor Eldon tell you that Graham confessed?" asked Carisi. "You tried to pin this on the boy? You ought to be ashamed of yourself."

Eldon tried to tell the Bakers they should still trust him.

Pam turned to Lane. "Lane, sweetheart, tell me the truth. Whatever it is, it's OK."

"He loves me," said Lane. "It's God's plan for us."

Eldon nodded triumphantly at Lane.

"What did you do to my daughter?" Pam asked Eldon.

"I'm marrying her, Pam" he replied. "I'm marrying... we're going to be husband and wife. A godly marriage. The baby will be born in wedlock."

"She is just a child!" Pam yelled, and he two argued briefly, after which Pam offered to testify. Eldon said they wouldn't want their "fans" to know that they'd lied about Tate.

"Sweetheart, I'm so sorry," Pam said to her daughter. "I didn't know. I should have protected you."

"I'm sorry, Mama," Lane said, starting to cry. "He told me that's what people in love do."

"She'll tell the truth," Pam told Benson. "So will Summer. And so will I. I don't care about the damn show and neither does Frank. We want him put away."

Benson gestured to the local police officer, who placed Eldon under arrest. The pastor insisted none of the charges would hold up in court and turned towards his victim. "I love you Lane," he said, as she cried and clung to her mother. ​​​​​​

"You really are a piece of crap," Carisi told him.

Sonny Carisi on episode 2405 of Law and Order SVu

What ultimately happened to Pastor Eldon on SVU?

At the end of the episode, Benson revealed that Eldon had agreed to plead to multiple counts of statutory rape.

"He's looking at hard time," she added.