Tonight, Law & Order: SVU season 20 episode 19 started off with a wedding … but ended up with one of the most emotional cases of the entire year.
Tonight, Josh and Lana found themselves interrupted at the wedding by Kitty Bennett, who claimed out of nowhere that she was assaulted sexually by her therapist Josh back in December. She had waited for a chance to humiliate him, but the problem was that at first glance, there wasn’t any evidence of her claims. She didn’t actually have an appointment at the office from months before, and she had shown a history of social-media stalking people associated with Josh.
Sometimes, though, you just need one break in order to break the case wide open. That’s what happened tonight when Kitty revealed that she was pregnant. Because the paternity test came back that it was Josh’s, there was no way to get out of that situation. He admitted a relationship with her soon after, but it wasn’t exactly what she claimed. A part of his story checked out, but the “consensual” nature did not. This pregnancy moment is what broke the case wide open and from here, most of the pieces fell into place — including Lana eventually coming forward to seal the case with an admission of her own that their relationship also started with an assault that left her confused and in pain.
This was a case that was about one man basically using whatever sort of emotional power that he could to dominate women, strip them of their confidence, and use his degree to basically convince them that this was all some sort of sexual inclination that they had. It was really evil if you frame it through this particular lens and that’s what he was precisely trying to do: Get whatever he wanted at the expense of someone who was not able to fully save themselves because of his control.
We have to start tonight with praise for Shiri Appleby, who delivered so much power as a character who, despite trying to hide information early on, was very much telling the truth about being assaulted and deserved justice because of that. It was great to see Shiri back on TV after UnREAL and hopefully, this is the beginning of more new episodes we get from her elsewhere.
As for this case, we did wonder in the early going why SVU didn’t check for a receipt or some sort of financial proof that maybe Kitty had paid for an appointment or at least had a co-pay through her insurance … but we’re not in New York and don’t have any clear idea as to how therapy works in the city. What we do know is that Benson and company got the break that they needed and this was a case that proved to be powerful, important, and worthy of our time as many of the great ones are.
Also, SVU needs to keep bringing truth to power when it comes to issues of control and consent — many victims often don’t feel the capacity to come forward because they may have felt like a Lana or a Kitty at the time.
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