Last week’s episode of SVU, “Military Justice”, was certainly a very powerful episode.
WARNING SPOILER ALERT! DON’T KNOW HOW MANY TIMES I HAVE TO SAY IT BUT SPOILER ALERT! SPOILER ALERT!
“Military Justice” was the story about a woman, Amelia Albers, in the Coast Guard who is gang raped. To begin with, she is arrested for DUI and refuses to cooperate with SVU out of fear of disappointing her parents. She claims that she can’t remember anything about her attackers but does remember dancing with 2 people from the kitchen who she thinks were Mexican. When Olivia asks if she has any family in the city, Amelia says her mom lives in Annapolis but asks that they tell her not to mention it to her father, the Admiral.
On their first trip to Amelia’s Sector at Sheepshead Bay, the team talk with Lipitt, Wooten and Graver, the 3 men Amelia had gone out drinking with the night before. They all claim that she was too drunk and hitting on everyone so they left her there. This turns out not to be true in the end. Liv and Cragen pay the Commander, Taverts, a visit when they hear that Amelia was in enough trouble with him already for missing curfew. He tells them that Amelia was a train wreck and that while he is sickened by what he hears, says he has already cut her a lot of breaks with her dad being the Admiral but basically says that he’s worried about how the rape will affect her standing and says it was “poor judgement on her part” as she broke military protocol.
After the run-in at the Sector, Nick, Fin and Amanda go over to the bar to follow up on the kitchen staff that Amelia had mentioned. Originally, they both try to make a run for it (for reasons I don’t quite understand given their innocence). They say the kitchen closed early and that Amelia was still in the bar, WITH the guys from her Sector, when they left work. They also claim that she was flirting with them and they just figured she was trying to make the other guys “hot”.
Liv goes to see Amelia again and, eventually, Amelia reluctantly tells her that she made out with them a little. She then goes on to say that Lipitt put her hand up her skirt before breaking down into tears out of fear of being dishonourably discharged and identifying Lipitt, Graver and Wooten as her attackers.
The team again head back to Sector, hoping to speak with the officers again before they know they’re suspects. However, they are confronted by Commander Taverts who says all 3 of them had just been shipped off for training off the coast of Somalia. As always though, Barba is there with a solution to the problem. Issuing the officers with subpoenas which compel them to return to the US immediately.
When the men are back on home soil, their stories change, albeit reluctantly. Each of them admits that they didn’t leave her in the bar alone. Lipitt admits he cheated on his wife with Amelia but used a condom, the absence of his DNA confirms this. Wooten claims that the sex was consensual, as most rapists do. Graver owned up to holding her arms down but denies that he had any sexual involvement with Amelia. Cragen orders that they all be arrested as 2 DNA samples were found and, out of the 3 of them, only 1 could be accounted for so far.
Later on, Amelia comes by the precinct to talk to Barba, Liv and Amaro but is hastily swept into the custody of the military police with charges or disorderly conduct, adultery and fraternization. Obviously, Liv is confused as to how they can arrest her for adultery when she’s single and Barba explains that Lipitt was her junior so they won’t charge him. Meanwhile, it turns out that of the 2 DNA samples, 1 of them doesn’t match any of the suspects meaning that there must have been a fourth attacker. It’s becoming increasingly clear that orders are coming from high up the chain of command and Rollins mentions to Amaro that maybe he should see what his ex-wife Maria can find for them given she works for the Pentagon.
After the Article 32 hearing for the charges that the military are bringing against Amelia, she stops by the precinct where she meets with her father. She cannot stop apologising and reluctantly says that Commander Taverts was the 4th attacker. Amelia explains that he’s been trying to sleep with her since day one and telling her that it’s the only way she’ll get anywhere in the military. When she refused him, she says, he told her that nobody says no to a CO. Barba then preps her for the trial.
Later in a bar, Liv, Rollins and Barba are talking about the case when Amaro enters and hands them a file that Maria managed to get for him. Of course, Barba freaks out and starts talking about the Garrity Ruling which says that everything in that file is considered to have been coerced and so he can’t so much as look at the contents without having to recuse himself. Amaro admits he’s already read it and, after Barba leaves, tells Liv and Rollins that they should take another look at Graver. The girls go to the prison to talk to Graver who admits that he himself is a victim of rape and that he didn’t report it after first consulting with his CO who simply told him to man up.
At the trial, Graver testifies that Taverts had planned the entire attack as a way of teaching Amelia a lesson. All 4 of the attackers are found guilty of first degree rape. Amelia is given honourable discharge and her father says that he’s proud of her for coming forward and says she has more guts than any of them.
A strong episode which not so subtly highlighted the military’s own rules and regulations and how they are not always the most clear or effective way of dealing with these issues. This was definitely an episode that needed to be shown and I’m glad it was. 8.5/10.