Law & Order: SVU – Recap & Review – Legitimate Rape

photo: nbc

photo: nbc

Law & Order: SVU
Legitimate Rape

Original Air Date: Mar 27, 2013

Caitlin – Senior Staff Writer

Once cautious about basing stories off real-life events, SVU has become more and more blasé about using “ripped from the headlines” plots. Tonight, I think they’re thrown in the subtlety towel altogether- and what better subject to do so with?

A sports reporter named Avery meets Olivia at a café, not wanting to be seen going to police. She admits she was assaulted, but is uncomfortable saying more. When some fans arrive, she makes a quick exit. That night, she fins a folder of photos of herself.

The man who attacked her is her cameraman, Richard, who is now stalking her. He says their relationship was consensual and that Avery is having an affair with a co-anchor. Jason doesn’t deny the affair, but wants to keep it private. That might be difficult, as Richard sent him a video of him and Avery in a hotel room. Richard is arrested, and Avery is mostly upset about the publicity- until she realizes she might be pregnant.

Some time passes before the trial starts, and Avery is indeed very clearly pregnant. Jason, starting to smooth things over with his wife, isn’t eager to testify. Still he agrees, and soon after things start to get problematic. Richard asks for a change of council, and is allowed to defend himself. This means he gets to interrogate Avery on the stand about his own crimes against her.

Richard questions Jason about the affair and calls Olivia up seemingly just to badger her about false reports. He also makes the point that victims rarely keep their rapists’ babies. Avery tells Barba and the court that she thought she couldn’t get pregnant and that this might be her only chance to be a mother. Richard responds with an expert who tries to make the argument that because Avery got pregnant, hers wasn’t a “legitimate rape”.

Richard takes another stab at Avery, this time making the argument that she wanted to have sex with him to try and get pregnant. He questions her as to why she took so long to come forward and makes her admit publicly that he is the baby’s father. Two days later, the jury comes back with a not guilty verdict (though they do peg him on stalking). Apparently, a deal went down in the jury room. Avery says she’s feeling ill and then goes into labor.

Her baby boy is born six weeks early, but is strong and healthy. She’s doing okay until she finds our Richard suing her for custody of the child. He tries to paint her as a bad mother, but her attorney points out that Theo is doing fine. The judge has the sense to give Avery full custody, but also has no choice but to allow weekly supervised visits between Richard and Theo. Avery breaks down as Richard thanks the judge, smirking.

Richard bothers Avery some more after court. She’s horrified that he’ll have any contact with Theo. He shows up that Saturday for his visit to find that she’s nowhere to be found. She’s at home and getting ready to leave, but not for the precinct. Olivia tries to talk her down, but later arrives at the station alone, telling Cragen than Avery is nowhere to be found. In fact, she and Theo have escaped on a private plane. Olivia tells Nick this, and that she, too, is a product of rape.

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