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Nora Hodges

Manipulative abuser/con artist Nora Hodges

Nora Hodges (Cindy Williams) is the main villainess of "Sick," episode 5.19 of Law & Order: SVU (airdate March 30, 2004). She is the grandmother of April Hodges, who was placed under her care after her parents abandoned her, along with being a greedy con artist who defrauded people of $60,000. Furthermore, almost a year prior to the episode's events, the manipulative woman began poisoning her granddaughter's food with mercury to make it look as though she was suffering from leukemia, with her motivation most likely being that she wanted to exploit April's "illness" to make easy money.

Nora read about how toy mogul William "Billy" Tripley was being accused of child molestation by JJ Ostilow (with his parents Ann and Jeremy having accepted William's payout of $4 million for their silence and JJ's), prompting her to concoct another scam in an attempt to collect a generous amount of hush money from him. She set her scheme into motion by taking April to Tripley's house during one of his many parties for ailing children and snuck upstairs to the billionaire's bedroom, where she stole a piece of his hair from his hairbrush that she would later plant in April's underwear. The greedy villainess then began coaching her granddaughter on what to say about William, even going so far as to create a scrapbook of information to quiz her from on a daily basis. When the SVU detectives brought the Hodges in after April's counselor came to them about his suspicions that she had been molested, Nora masterfully put on the act of a guilt-ridden and concerned grandmother, hiding her true intentions for the time being.

The first official sign of her unscrupulous personality came when a private investigator hired by William's legal team caught her shoplifting at a department store, though she claimed to Detectives Olivia Benson and Elliot Stabler that she had to get new clothes for her granddaughter (being "[unable to] work" since the latter's purported medical bills "wiped [her] out"). After that, the pair began to uncover Nora's dark secrets when ME Melinda Warner revealed how her pelvic x-ray of April during her rape trauma exam showed that a bone marrow biopsy was never performed on her by a pediatric oncologist to confirm the existence of her "leukemia." Furthermore, Dr. Kyle Beresford disclosed that she had been suffering from mercury poisoning for almost a year. After April confessed to the truth, her grandmother's villainous reveal was cemented, and she was arrested offscreen.

ADA Casey Novak went to talk to Nora and her lawyer Cleo Conrad at Rikers Island, with Nora herself claiming she loved April and that there had to be something wrong with her—with Cleo affirming it was Munchausen by proxy. Novak then revealed her awareness of the fact that the villainess orchestrated April's false claim after the latter tried to pin the blame on her granddaughter. Realizing she had been exposed, Nora tried to justify her actions by saying that William is a pedophile who got what he deserved, which Casey countered by saying that her deception made it easier for him to get away with sexually abusing other children should he choose to do so. Moreover, Novak made a deal with Conrad to charge the latter's client not for the Tripley scam, but for faking April's leukemia. When the domestic abuser pleaded with her to think about her granddaughter, who had no one else in her life to raise her, Casey pointedly reminded her how her poisoning almost killed her. Although it was not shown, Nora was ultimately sentenced to life in prison for both the cancer fraud and attempted first-degree murder.

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