SVU Episode #15-20: Beast’s Obsession

Tonight’s episode wasn’t about a realistic problem that society faces – there were no untested rape kits, no reluctant witnesses, no restitution for child-porn victims. Tonight’s episode was pure thriller. It was disturbing; it was intense; it left you clenching the edge of your seat.

Recap:

Horrible Lewis escapes from prison, and uses his freedom to torment Olivia by going on a crime spree in Manhattan. By the third commercial, he’s tortured and raped two people and killed seven more. His victims include a hospital nurse, prison guard, defense attorney, and a doctor and her two young daughters. Using the youngest daughter as bait, Lewis lures Olivia to a secluded warehouse. He makes one final unsuccessful attempt at raping her, then forces her to play Russian roulette. Lewis may be the world’s worst forced Russian roulette supervisor, because in the end, he takes the gun from Olivia and shoots himself in the face.

[Read more...]

SVU Episode #15-19: Downloaded Child

This was a disturbing but important episode about the power of child pornography to destroy lives, and the power of the law to help victims get restitution.

Recap:

A little girl named Maddie totters on the brink of a 10-story apartment balcony; our detectives swoop in and save her from falling. Her parents aren’t home, leading the detectives to investigate a child neglect case. They discover that Maddie’s mother, Jenny, was a victim of child pornography herself. Jenny’s erratic behavior stems from her own traumatic childhood. As an eight-year-old, Jenny was videotaped having sex with her stepfather; the video was shared on the Internet thousands of times.

Instead of pressing charges against Jenny for leaving her child alone, the detectives help her collect damages from the men who downloaded pornographic images of her. But collecting from one man at a time is logistically difficult. The Violence Against Women Act allows Jenny to collect from a single rich porn viewer the entire $4 million she’s owed in damages. If he wants to sue the other offenders, he can.

Verdict: A

What they got right:

There is an ongoing legal debate about how child-porn victims can collect damages from offenders who downloaded their images. The Supreme Court just heard arguments in January on this very issue.

In the real case of Paroline v. Amy Unknown, an eight-year-old girl named Amy was sexually abused by her uncle, who then posted the images online. Amy’s images were traded thousands of times among child pornographers. When Amy (at age 17) started receiving notices from the government about these cases, she hired a lawyer and started suing the offenders, one by one, for restitution. The Violence Against Women Act allows victims of child pornography to sue people who saw their images, and collect money damages including lost income, counseling, medical expenses, and attorney’s fees. Using VAWA, Amy has succeeded in collecting about $1.7 million from more than 170 men.

In January, the Supreme Court heard arguments in a case Amy brought against Donald Paroline. Paroline was caught with hundreds of images of child pornography, including two pictures of 8-year-old Amy. Amy sued him for the restitution due from all offenders who viewed her images; the Fifth Circuit upheld her claim. This is known as “joint and several liability,” and effectively forces the porn offender, rather than the victim, to collect from the other offenders.

But other courts have held that a single offender can only be held responsible for his own portion of the restitution. In an unusual move, a bipartisan group of Senatorsfiled a brief with the Supreme Court, in which they explicitly stated that they did mean to include this form of restitution in VAWA for victims like Amy. Hang tight to find out what the Supremes say.

Tonight’s episode also highlighted that child pornography isn’t a victimless crime. Each time an image is downloaded, the child is revictimized. I loved the courtroom scene where Jenny confronted the child porn offender (right after his daughter finished speaking on his behalf). It was very realistic and summarized the harrowing issues that cases like this present.

Many American judges feel that watching child porn is victimless crime. It’s not. The damages caused by this marketplace and all the actors in it are devastating. I wish every judge in America would watch this episode of SVU.

What they got wrong:

No way would Olivia bring Jenny to her own personal therapist. Detectives usually try to keep their personal and professional lives far apart.  I’ve even known detectives and prosecutors who refuse to keep family photos on their desks for that reason.

What do you think, SVU fans? Should a single porn viewer be responsible for the damages caused by every other offender who views the images? Who should have the burden of collecting damages, the victim or the offender? And did Olivia and Cassidy break up or get back together? (I couldn’t tell.) Leave your comments!

SVU Episode #15-18: Criminal Stories

Was that … sexual tension between Alec Baldwin and Detective Olivia Benson? Cassidy, watch out! Tonight’s episode was a tight and realistic riff on the Tawanna Brawley case. It was also Mariska Hargitay’s directorial debut. I think she hit it out of the ballpark – maybe even to Jupiter?

Recap:

A beautiful young Muslim woman named Heba is found injured and raped in Central Park. At first, she claims that she was assaulted by two white strangers who shouted anti-Muslim slurs. The city is shocked by the hate crime.

Olivia races against a swaggering journalist played by a swaggering Alec Baldwin. Alec’s sources are better than the SVU’s. Soon, he discovers that Heba wasn’t raped in Central Park! “HOAX” screams his front-page headline the next day. Heba’s family enlists the help of a pulpit-pounding minister (why not an imam? because the minister is a regular guest star on SVU), who denounces the NYPD for leaking the case and disgracing Heba.

It turns out Heba was raped, just in a different manner – [Read more...]

SVU Episode #15-17: Gambler’s Fallacy

Whoa! In tonight’s shocking episode, Amanda performed some acts no cop ever should. By the second commercial break I was bidding her character farewell, because there was no way NYPD could keep her on the force. Then, in a fabulous plot twist, the writers turned everything its head. The episode wasn’t particularly realistic, but it scored high points for fun.

Recap:

Amanda hasn’t kicked her gambling problem. In fact, she’s traded her Gamblers Anonymous meetings for gambling at an illegal speakeasy in an abandoned warehouse. She’s down $15,000 when a waitress recognizes she’s a cop.

Amanda spends the rest of the episode trying to work off her debt to the beautiful pregnant boss lady and her Irish rogue deputy, who rough up Amanda and threaten to turn her in to Internal Affairs if she doesn’t do their bidding.

Amanda’s sins grow exponentially. In sequence, she:

(1) Looks to fix traffic tickets, but ultimately demurs, saying NYPD is watching this now,
(2) Tracks a juror’s address so the bad guys can “have a talk” with her, but then has an attack of conscience and doesn’t turn the address over,
(3) Performs oral sex on the Irish guy! While he tapes it on his cellphone video! (…which is the only act on this list which, if performed correctly, would not lead to her immediate termination if discovered…)
(4) Disposes of a gun from the police evidence room, in order to set free co-conspirator Carlos and keep his DNA out of the system!
(5) After Carlos rapes the wife of an ambassador in debt to the speakeasy, goes to their home, showing the victims that their assailants have friends in the NYPD!
(6) Fixes a DNA test to exonerate the rapist!
(7) Points a gun at the pregnant boss’s belly and threatens to kill the unborn baby!
(8) Extorts the boss’s art dealer / criminal mastermind boyfriend to the tune of a million dollars and a private jet to fly her out of the country!

I thought poor Kelli Giddish’s contract fell through, or maybe she’s heading to CSI, because her character is done.

)

But it turned out that Amanda did not, in fact, fellate the Irish guy. [Read more...]

SVU Episode # 15-16: “Gridiron Soldier”

Today’s post is written by the fabulous David Delee.  David was a licensed private investigator and holds a Masters in Criminal Justice. Now he writes the acclaimed Grace deHaviland Bounty Hunter novels and is a star of the Dark Road Publishing empire. Check out his latest novel, Pin Money.

Image of David DeLee

David was kind enough to fill in for me because I’m still hunkered down trying to finish up my next book. I’m six days past my publisher’s deadline. Gah! I’m the person who shows up five minutes early for everything. David’s generous blogging freed me up to perfect my own story (which I’m hoping to turn in tomorrow).  With my extra time last night, I wrote a smoking hot sex scene. So, when my book eventually comes out and you get to the part where you think Yowzers! you’ll know that was written the evening of 3/5/14, while intrepid David was discovering the crazy things that turn up in Google when you’re researching SVU.

Many thanks, David! Hope you’re recovering from your 3 AM Google adventures today!

♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦

Talk about life imitating art. Tonight’s SVU episode began by tackling the Jonathan Martin – Richie Incognito hazing scandal and ended with University of Missouri player Michael Sam’s

recent announcement about his sexual orientation. Quite a feat considering the episode was written in December and wrapped up production in early February, days before Sam came out according to an article in the Wall Street Journal today.

Recap: Amanda Rollins is spending her time off in a bar upset over a ref’s bad call in a basketball game on TV. Turns out she’s in deep with her bookie, who’s threatening her, and so desperate she goes to her ex-sponsor, ‘thirteen-stepper’ Nate who’s surprisingly free with his bar’s money, giving it to Rollins, presumably so she doesn’t get her legs broken, asking only in return she go to a Gambler’s Anonymous meeting with him.

 Meanwhile football player Cedric Jones arrives in town from Georgia where he’s met by Hudson University coach Bill Becker and Zoe and Tanya, two, beautiful, young women the coach introduces as his hostesses for the weekend. After telling the girls he’s committed to Georgia Tech, Cedric attends the recruitment dinner where the coach has some of the other players give him a tour of the facility, a tour that ends in the weight room, where according to one of the players, “boys turn into men,” and where Zoe and Tanya are waiting for him, with a blindfold, and Cedric with a grin so big it would make the Cheshire Cat proud. [Read more...]

SVU Episode #15-14: Comic Perversion

Tonight’s Law & Order: SVU started with a special warning: “Due to sensitive content, viewer discretion is advised.” Whoa, I thought. When a show that has tackled dolphin sex, vodka tampons, and sexualized amputation fetishes has to open with a warning, you’d better brace yourself. But although the language was offensive, the episode tackled some real issues in a way that was explicit and interesting but not exploitative.

Recap:

Riffing on the real-life Tosh scandal, “Comic Perversion” was about a comedian who jokes about rape. The fictional “Josh” headlines at a comedy club, where he gets laughs by suggesting that rape is funny, and that a feminist protester in his audience will “get” the joke if she’s gang-raped later that night. [Read more...]

The Emergency Sasquatch Ordinance

What have you been doing with SVU off the air? Watching a lot of hockey?  I’ve been desperately trying to finish writing my next book (the deadline is in  nine days — gulp!) and reading an awesome legal humor book during breaks (while standing at the counter eating peanut-butter bagels).

“The Emergency Sasquatch Ordinance” is the first book by lawyer/blogger Kevin Underhill, the man who consistently wins the “Fun” category in the ABA’s legal blog rankings.  If you’ve read his blog, Lowering the Bar, you know he has a hilarious, clever take on the most absurd legal happenings every day.  If you don’t read his blog, go do it now.  I’ll wait.  Funny, right? [Read more...]

SVU Episode #15-13: Wednesday’s Child

Tonight’s SVU did something only this show can: it entertained and riveted, while teaching about a horrific American problem. In this gut-wrenching episode, SVU cast a light on the real-life tragedy of “rehoming”: the practice of giving up adopted kids via Internet chat rooms, and the abuse that flourishes in this blackmarket of thrown-away children.

Recap:

The SVU detectives are called into a home when it appears that a child has been abducted. In fact, the 7-year-old boy was given up by his mother, without the father’s knowledge. The couple had adopted him from former Soviet state of Georgia, only to learn that he had serious developmental and social problems.

Mom couldn’t take it, so she went to a chat room and met a well-meaning but ditzy middleman who took the child, then promptly gave him to a couple with a false address and a forged home-study. The new family turns out to be pornographers who took the boy to use in their child porn videos.

Olivia and her team eventually track them down to a cheap motel, where they save the boy and three little girls. In the motel room, they also find an infant baby. The infant is unclaimed and sent into the foster care system.

Olivia, who spent a large part of this episode in an exciting but ultimately anticlimactic pregnancy head-fake, looks longingly at the baby as her biological clock ticks ominously in the background.

[Read more...]