Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (1999–…): Season 13, Episode 1 - Scorched Earth - full transcript

An African immigrant working as a maid accuses an Italian diplomat of rape, but is she really in it just for the money? Meanwhile, Stabler's return remains in doubt after his latest shooting.

In the criminal justice system,

sexually based offenses are
considered especially heinous.

In New York City,
the dedicated detectives

who investigate
these vicious felonies

are members of an elite squad

known as
the special victims unit.

These are their stories.

Today on wall street,
for a third day in a row,

stocks fell on fears
Europe still has

failed to tackle
its debt crisis,

prompting worries the market is
headed to new lows for the year.

Investors channeled cash
into less risky--

fears that the global economy
will fall into a recession.


What's going on?

Miriam, what happened to you?
Are you okay?


May my grandchild be a boy.

Cin cin.

Call the police.

Munch, Fin,

I need you at
the park Milano over by fifth.

- What's up?
- Maid says a guest

sexually assaulted her
in the presidential suite.

- We're on it, captain.
- Yeah.

Olivia, I'm sorry
about your weekend.

- No, it's fine.
- Meet the vic at Bellevue.

Get a prelim.
All right, listen.

Color inside the lines.

The suspect
is Roberto Distasio,

odds-on favorite to be
Italy's next prime minister.

- When did you last see
the laptop, sir?

At the hotel.
Turn around.

This traffic...

If you go back,
you'll miss your flight.

Keep going.
I will call the hotel.

Distasio checked out
over an hour ago.

We're still trying
to find a location on him.

Yo! Security says the desk

has Distasio on the phone
right now.

He left his laptop
in his room.

He's on his way to JFK.


If he gets on that plane,
he's gone for good.

Stall him. Have the hotel tell
him they're bringing it to him.

Get there before wheels up.
I'll call Cutter.

- Oh, captain, captain Cragen.
- Excuse me?

I'm detective
Amanda Rollins.

You interviewed me
last month.

You picked a hell
of a first day.

I'll fill you in later.

You can fill me in now.

Hey, stash that for me
somewhere, hon.

Thank you.
I'm ready to work.

I was making the bed,

and he came into the room.

From outside?


In a robe from the spa.

He--he--he locked the door
behind him.

And then--then he--
he pushed me

onto the bed.

He--he--he hold my arm

behind my back,

but I get away.

I run.

- Okay.
- He--he--he grabbed me.

I scratch him.


He push me down again.

Where was that?

Just outside the bedroom.

He--he--he put...

It's okay.

He--he--he put it
in my mouth.

He--he hold my head so hard.

Until he finished.

And--and when I spit it out,

he laughed

and--and he said,

"this is the difference

between like and love."

Okay, Miriam.

Miriam, where did you
spit it out?

Got something.

- What?
- Could be blood.

Let's shoot this.

Hold up.

Let's get some scale here.

Vic said she spit it out
in the bathroom.


Get ready to get happy.

Roberto Distasio.

Ah, finally.

You brought my laptop?

Not really.

You're under arrest.


Sync: rai


Did he give anything
on his way over?

he's claiming
diplomatic immunity

based on the fact
that he's the head

of the global economic trust.

Too bad stabler's still out.
He would have loved

- to crack this guy.
- Who wouldn't?

Benson is still taking
the maid's statement.

We'll talk to Mr. Distasio when
we know what we're looking for.

Or not.

Ah, Marvin Exley.

When you absolutely, positively
have to beat the rap.

He's all yours, counselor.

See you on the other side.

Mr. Distasio.

Marvin Exley.

Yes, sir.

My wife says you're the best.

She's right.


So tell me,
NYPD treating you okay?

These waters I'm in
are very deep, Mr. Exley.

I trust no one.

Well, you'll have
to trust me.

The charges are substantial.

Only in America.

Berlusconi will do anything
to stop me.

He's the Geppetto. He's the one
who pulls the strings.

They are looking at me
like an insect

right now... aren't they?

Well, they may be looking,

but they can't touch.

Marvin Exley.

How do these guys always know
who to get?

Alex, welcome back
to the concrete jungle.

- Thank you.
- How was the Congo?

Pray for them.

So another D.S.K.

It looks like it's open season
on hotel maids, counselor.

Well, the victim made
an immediate outcry.

Her story's been consistent.

And we found a mixture
of semen and saliva at the scene

and we pulled out a nice juicy
cocktail from the drain.

A.D.A. Cabot,
detective Rollins.

- Nice to meet you.
- Pleasure.

Okay, well... it's enough
to hold him for now.

Elam is six

and Joseph is eight.

And they're good boys?

They are good boys.

Now their father is...
still in Sudan?

No. Killed in the fighting.

This man who...

They tell me
he is someone rich? Important?


Miriam, uh... this
isn't gonna be easy,

but as long as you tell me
the truth,

I don't care who this man
thinks he is.

He's going to jail.

Il signor Distasio
is one of the continent's

most charming men.

To women, he is a magnet.

He is not a, um,
stupratore... a rapist.

And yet we do have
probable cause.

Perhaps I am being too obtuse.

Do you know what signor Distasio
was doing yesterday afternoon?

Well, based on the complaints
leveled his way today,

I'd hate to guess.

He was playing golf...

With your president.

How'd he do?

Mr. Cutter,
D.A.'s SVU bureau chief,

this is Mr. Fedeli,
the Italian consul general.

Sorry to meet under
these circumstances.

We all realize
it's a delicate situation.

No, no, no.
It is a farce.

As head of the G.E.T.,
Roberto has diplomatic immunity.

You cannot hold him.

You will have to take that up
with the state department.

And if he does have immunity,
it's from prosecution,

not arrest.

Mr. Fedeli, I assure you
that Mr. Distasio

is being afforded the rights
of any other suspect.

He is not any suspect.

Why else has there been
this, uh, rush to judgment?

NYPD did their job,
Mr. Fedeli,

and I have to let
my office do ours.

Tell me you know
what you're doing.

We're gonna--

everyone is staring.

Yeah. Come on, we're just
gonna be here for a few minutes.

Is he here in the station?

Miriam, why don't you
just have a seat

right here,
and I'm gonna come get you

when we're ready
for the line-up, okay?

I'll be back in a second.

Detective Benson?

Hi. Amanda Rollins.

Ah, transfer
from Dallas, right?

Yeah--well, Atlanta.

You like Distasio for this?

Uh... he was there.

Well, I just--I-I just wanted
to let you know

I'm really happy to be here.

I, um, I've studied
a lot of your cases.

I used some of the stuff you did
on the brown case--

the--the infant homicide.

Yeah. Yeah, I haven't briefed
the captain yet, so...

- Sure.
- Thank you.

Distasio charged his hotel
to his personal account,

not to the G.E.T.

Bye-bye immunity.

Whoa, whoa, slow down,
that's state's call.

So where are we
on the victim's statement?

Solid, backwards and forwards.

Exam backs her up.

We need an I.D.

What's taking so long
with the line-up?

Well, I got my guys
out on Park Avenue

trying to corral five men
who match Distasio.

Okay. And what do we have
on the maid?


Sorry. Um, hard-working
single mother,

no arrests.

Immigrated here three years ago
from the Sudan.

Political asylum.

Go over her past
with a fine-tooth comb.

Oh, I gotta take this.

Hillary's people.

I heard about the shooting.

Is stabler coming back?

That's up to him.

That is him. Number four.

- Take your time.
- No, that is him.

Number four, that is him.

Okay. It's okay.
Let's go.

And now I'm released?

Oh, no. You are going
to the hospital.

There is nothing wrong
with me.

It's not a check-up,
it's a procedure.

On the word of a maid?

My grandmother was a maid.

It's been
a tough few months.

We all know there's a bull's-eye
on SVU from the top down.

We are all
under the microscope.

We work this case by the book,

like our jobs depend on it.

The D.A.'s office is gonna put
the victim and her kids

up at a hotel, keep them away
from the circus.

Good. Distasio's got
a world-class P.R. team.

He's gonna try to get to her
or dirty her or both.

Romeo's ready
for his forensic exam.

Don't let your feelings
get in the way, detective.

You and Liv take him
out a side door.

No cameras, no perp walk.

No doubt.
We're professionals, captain.

Sorriso per la camera.

I thought in America you were
innocent u proven guilty.

But you let them
take my picture.

Freedom of press, baby.

hair samples.

This may hurt.

So much care to make sure that
the evidence is uncorrupted,

but you cannot see that
the whole process is corrupted.

They will find no evidence
of sex with that woman.

I've had a vasectomy.

Somebody told you wrong.

DNA is like God...
It's everywhere.

Drop your shorts.

Hey, sergeant.

Worked up a timeline
off the maid's keycard.

This guy's one of the most
powerful men in the whole world,

and he throws it all away
in less than 20 minutes?

"Absolute power
corrupts absolutely."

I know Distasio's
lawyered up,

but has anyone tried
to small talk him?

Well, he's been oblivious
to my charms.

Is that supposed
to be lunch?

This might be better.

You know, you can't get real
Italian food where I'm from.

If I may...

It seems you cannot get real
Italian food here either.

They said it was good.

And they said
they delivered.

A man is measured
by his appetites.

A woman is...

Measured by cosmo.

I think you're right.

In some places, a man is...

praised for
the scope of his... passions.

In other places,
it's seen as a weakness.

Weakness is repellent
to women

and anathema to success.

I wish it was
the same for women.


Most men are turned on
by weakness.

Ah, but it is not
a woman's weakness.

The dance--the fantasy that
she has relinquished something--

that is her power.

The parry holds as much power
as the thrust.

I've gotta level with you.

This maid?

Her story?

You know you got a lot more
to lose than she does.

There's an Italian saying,

"fatti maschi,
parole femmine."

Man has facts,
woman has words.


And all we have right now
are this woman's words.

Sure would like
to hear your facts.

I'm sorry, signorina.

I'm very tired.

But...Thank you for the meal.

No problem.

Maybe we can
talk again later.


I will be free,

and you'll be out of a job.

Docket ending 1701,

people versus Roberto Distasio.

The charges are
rape in the first degree,

assault in the second degree,

and unlawful imprisonment
in the second degree.

How do you plead?

I am not guilty.

Not guilty.

People on bail?

We request remand,
your honor.

Two hours after Mr. Distasio
committed a violent crime,

he was apprehended
on a plane bound for Italy.

That defines flight risk.

Your honor, my client
has no criminal record

and prosecution
is well aware

that there is
an extradition treaty in place.

In place is not the same
as in use.

I agree.
Defendant is remanded to Rikers.

Even in jail,
he will find us.

They say...

he has agents from the CIA
working for him.

He has a defense team,
and they're going to try

to find out everything about you
that they can.

- They will make accusations.
- Officer...

Why don't you take the boys down
to the snack machine?

I want my children here.

I promise you they'll be safe
with the officer.

Just for a minute.

Hey, guys, come on.

Get up.
Go with the officer.


The defense is going to say
that you did this for money.

I would never.

Not for any money.

Okay, good,

but if there's any part of
the story you are leaving out--

any miscommunication,

any misunderstanding--

no, he raped me.

And he's going
to get away with it.

He can find me,
do what he want to me,

just like the soldiers.

One year after my family escape
over the border to Sudan,

men on horses
come to my village

and killed everyone.

The missionary
at the refugee camp,

he told me
if I bring my sons to America,

there is no violence,
no fighting.

Someone from Africa
is the president of everything.


What does I.A.B. want?

That was
a good shooting, captain.

Elliot was cleared.

On that one.

Now Internal Affairs wants
to go over his entire jacket.

Let 'em.

There's nothing to find.


If it was
his first good shooting, okay,

maybe even his second,

but it's his sixth.

The whole squad is on notice.

So what,
so he's the sacrificial lamb?

You're just gonna give him up?

You know me
better than that.

He's like a son to me.

I've been pushing
as hard as I can.

I just don't know
how it's gonna shake out.

What does that mean?

That means, if Elliot wants
to keep his job,

he's gonna have to submit
to a psych eval,

anger management,
a lot of hoops.

And he'll tell them
to go to hell.

Don't ask.

Well, you look like you could
use more bad news.

Team Distasio just swung
an appellate court review

of his bail.


My client's release on bail

is the first act of due process
since this whole charade began.

Let me just say something:

That we are quite confident

that once the D.A.'s office
becomes aware

of its witness's
serious credibility issues,

they will drop the charges.

Never for an instant have I
doubted my husband's innocence.

He has many enemies

who will stop at nothing
to discredit him.

Look, I don't wanna
stalk you, but...

You know, if you need to talk,
I'm here.

- Hey, Liv.
- Hey.

Hey, Liv.

Hey, so...
How'd the hand-off go?

Some house arrest.
This cat's got a screening room.

So what's her story?

She must have some hooks to be
transferred here from Atlanta.

She's cool.

Talked to Elliot?


Good news.

The DNA came back.

It's a match for Distasio
and the victim.

Well, that puts him
in the room.

What is he gonna do now,
plead consent?

Oh, yeah, he will.

In his world, sex is power.

To him it was all
just a dance.

So whatever happened in that
room, he doesn't see it as rape.

Elliot's probably afraid
to talk to you, Liv.

Doesn't want you to try
to talk him out of it.

Out of what?

He's not gonna quit.

He shot a teenage girl.

He may not ever
wanna put his gun on again.

You invite your boss
for a drink?

Hey, Mike, what's up?

Thought you
vetted your witness.

- She's in it for the money.
- Not a chance.

That's the ledger.

They'll print anything
to sell papers.

They got her on tape.

What? Who?

Another maid at the hotel
just sold Miriam out.

This that did its to me

he is rich.

I can make him pay.

He had no right.

I know
some good lawyers, eh?

They will hook you up
with a fat civil suit.

How much do you think
I can get?

I want to take
millions from him.

Why is this
in the newspaper?

Because your coworker
taped you and sold it to them.

I have a right
to make this man pay.

He is rich,
living in a mansion,

when you told me
he would be in prison.

But now the defense can say
that you were not raped,

that this is a shakedown.

He raped me.

You promised miss cabot
that this wasn't about money.

Have you hired a lawyer?


So you think
she's angling for a payday?

She says no.

But Exley's team
will claim extortion.

Even on the tape,
her story of the rape

is consistent
all the way through.

These cases are about
perception, not reality.

She's compromised.

They're digging up
everything they can on her.

What about him?

Detectives, any progress?

Another G.E.T. official
who won't go on record.

What about you, Rollins?

Well, two months ago
in Buenos Aires,

a hotel maid,
Isabel Cortazar,

told her boss that Distasio
pushed her onto the bed.

Started to attack her.

Only stopped
when she screamed.

Is she willing to testify?

Well, I haven't reached her
yet, but neither have they.

I checked.

All right, well, stay on it.

Let me know
if you get anything.

Alex Cabot please?

Good work, Rollins.

Motion to suppress,
your honor.

The police have no record
of this crime.

This testimony is prejudicial.

The other maid's
accusation occurred

within the last six months
and is consistent

with the defendant's M.O.

Where is this Miss Cortazar?

We're making arrangements
to fly her in from Buenos Aires.

Produce her, and I'll allow
her testimony. Anything else?

Yes, your honor.

I have notarized
police reports

from Abyei province,
South Sudan.

Where did you get this?

What part about South Sudan
didn't you hear?

Prosecution's witness has a
conviction for prostitution

in her home country.

This, if it's
even legitimate...

It's legitimate.

Is inflammatory

and in clear violation
of the rape shield law.

Ah, the rape shield law
has an exception

if the claimant has a conviction
within the last three years.

Why did you lie to me?

Because I am not
a prostitute.

I was gang-raped.

They still have my husband's
blood on them

when they attack me.

I beg them
to kill me after,

but they said no.

They wanted something sweet
to come back to.

I went to the police.

They call me a whore.

They say I broke sharia law,

and they will
stone me to death

in front of my children.

Is there anyone
who can confirm this story?

This is not a story.

It is why I come here.

But you will believe

what you will believe.

The maid from Buenos Aires
just moved

to an exclusive gated community
in cordoba

and won't return our calls.

For what it's worth,

Miriam says that she's telling
the truth...

Now, that she was a victim
of sharia law.

Doesn't matter.

What do you mean?

I don't see a win here.

I do.

When the jury
hears her story,

they are gonna come back guilty
on all counts.

She's heartbreaking,

but it doesn't mean that
she's telling the truth.


I believe her.

I heard thousands of stories
just like hers

when I was in Africa.

It's not getting that far.

The new D.A. wants
to drop the charges.

All I ever heard about

was how Mike cutter
was a crusader for justice.

What happened to you?

If we press a case
that we can't win,

we just tell the next victim

that she's better off
staying silent.

If we let Distasio walk,

we send a message to the rest of
the world that, in New York,

the law doesn't apply
to the rich and the powerful.

We are here
to even those scales,

not cut and run.

The prosecution witness
are suspect

and frankly, I am confident
that the evidence

will vindicate my client.

But sir, how do you
feel about this trial?

I fight him.

He say, if I don't,
he will have me fired.

When he finish,
he push me away.

I-I crawl
to the sink and...

It's okay.

What happened then?

I spit it out.

It taste like poison.

Miss Deng,
the defence has suggested

that you are in this
for the money.

Have you ever been
paid for sex?


I never.

But you do have a conviction
for prostitution in the Sudan.


Can you please explain
how that came about?

I was gang-rape
by soldiers.

12 of them.

They still have
my husband's blood on them

when they attack me.

Miss Deng,

I'm truly sorry for all that
you've had to go through.

Tell us about the soldiers
who gang-raped you.

How many were there again?

12 of them.


And before you came
to this country,

you filled out
an application

for political asylum,
is that right?

- Yes.
- And on that application,

did they ask you if you had ever
been convicted of a felony?


And how did you answer?


So you lied on
a legal document

where you had sworn
to tell the truth.



Just so we can be clear,

you're not lying about
what happened

in that hotel room, are you?

No, I am not lying.

So in fact,
you only lied once,

under oath, to the government
of the United States.

Well, I guess we'll just have
to take your word for it.



No more questions.

Heard they beat her up
in there pretty bad.

She brought it on herself.

She lied--repeatedly.

She did whatever
she had to do to get asylum.


Her testimony
about the gang rape...

You know, it's one thing
to be consistent.

It's another
to quote verbatim.

ripping into her.

What's up with you?

You telling me you don't
think he's good for it?

The woman offered herself,

and foolishly, I obliged.

After, she asked me
for money.

Oh, and how
did you respond?

I said I'm not accustomed
to paying.

She became upset.

She said,
"I know who you are."

She told me that,
unless I give her $10,000,

she will say
that I raped her.

Well, I told her
that, in my life,

many have tried
to blackmail me,

and this will not stand.

I was coming back from the spa
in my robe.

I opened the door.

She was there.

How did she respond?

She asked
if she was disturbing me.

I said "no.

I will dress
in the other room."

Then... she offered herself
to me.

Had you ever met
Miss Deng before?


Didn't you think
it was odd

that a woman
who you didn't know

who is 40 years your junior

offered herself
to you so abruptly?


Women see power...

and they find it attractive.

You mean they like it rough.



I ask because,
in evidence 407 and 408,

the jury saw photographs
of Miss Deng's bruised forearms

and scraped knees.

Do you consider
those injuries

to be a normal part
of consensual sex?

The dance is different
every time.

The jury also saw,
in evidence 409,

a photograph of a scratch
on your neck.

Was Miss Deng
the one who scratched you?


Also part of "the dance"?

She was very passionate.

Are you sure she didn't
get those injuries

trying to fight you off?

I knew she did not
want me to stop.

You knew?


A man knows.

Did she tell you that?


It's, uh, in a woman's eyes.

No matter what the words say.

Even if the word is "no"?

Even if she's fighting you?

Scratching you?

Even if she's calling for help

less than five minutes after
you've fled your room,

after you raped her.

Did you see that in her eyes?

No further questions.

Mr. Exley.

Well, your honor,
I apologize.

We just were made aware
that we have another witness.

Your honor, this hail Mary
is a bald-faced attempt

to skirt proper
discovery rules.

Why wasn't this witness,
Mr. Achok, on your list?

We only recently became aware
of his existence, your honor.

He lives in the Sudan.

You had time to fly him in,

but you didn't have time
to inform us?

We're doing that now.

You can take as long
as you want to vet him.

We can wait.

Given the relevance
of this witness's testimony,

I'm going to allow it.

Mr. Achok,

you helped Miriam Deng
fill out her asylum application,

is that right?

Oh, yes, and many others.

It's very hard to get asylum.

When I told her
what must be done,

she was very good,

very natural.

And what did you tell her?

The best way to get
into the U.S. is to be raped.

The Americans cry so hard
when they hear it.

They open their doors wide.

And on the application,
she said

that she was gang-raped
by a dozen soldiers.

This is what we said.

- "We"?
- Oh, yes.

There's many dead parents
in Sudan,

many rapes.

She told me one soldier
had raped her.

I told her, "no!

"One dozen soldiers.

This is better."

And that's what she swore to
on the application,

isn't that right?

We practiced for her interview,

how to say things.

She cried.

She tell the story of the rape
by the soldiers,

she make me cry almost.

Was Miss Deng gang-raped
by 12 soldiers?


This was a lie.

I see.

Your witness,
Miss Cabot.

It is your testimony

that you coach people
to lie for a living.

Is that correct, Mr. Achok?


How much money did the defense
pay you to testify today?

- Please.
- Nothing.

Not one penny.

Is that what they coached you
to lie, Mr. Achok?

- Your honor...
- Withdrawn.

Olivia, all rape victims
lie about something.

You know that.
How much they had to drink,

who they were with the night
before, what their boyfriends--

she picked the wrong thing
to lie about.

One lie is fine, even two,

but Alex,
there's a pattern here.

I mean, how much damage control
can you do?


do you think she's telling
the truth about the rape?


Something bad happened to her
in that room.

That's all I need to hear.

My heart goes out
to the accuser.

But she has made
a habit of lying...

Lying about rape

to get what she wants.

She lied about rape to come
to this country,

and when she saw Mr. Distasio,

she saw an opportunity.

Either he paid up

or she would cry rape.

You heard her on tape.

"We could take millions."

Tell me,

how does that smell to you?

Miriam Deng is
not a perfect witness,

but her life has been
less than perfect.

She entered this country
on a lie,

but only because
the horrible truth

wasn't enough
to grant her asylum.

It took a great deal of courage

for her to confront
the man who raped her...

To tell him that, in America,

money and power do not tilt
the scales of justice.

Miriam Deng thought
her nightmare had finally ended

when she entered
this country.

It is up to the 12 of you
to see that, for once,

she gets justice.

The jury is taking so long.

Is that a good sign?

We don't--we don't have
to wait here.

Do you think
they believe Achok?

Any lie I told,

I did it so my sons
could have a better life.

I never lie about
what he did to me.

I understand.

Jury's back.

On the count of rape
in the first degree,

has the jury
reached a verdict?

Your honor, on the charge
of rape in the first degree,

the jury remains unable
to reach a unanimous verdict.

Very well.

I accept your verdict.

On count two,
has the jury reached a verdict?

On the charge of assault
in the second degree,

we find the defendant

not guilty.

order in the court.

On count three,
what say you?

On the charge
of unlawful imprisonment

in the second degree,

we find the defendant

Bailiff, please remove
Mr. Distasio.

Roberto, please.

Control yourself.

The state of New York
thanks the jury for its service.

We're adjourned.

We handed the jury a mess
and they split the baby.

He's gonna appeal.

Claim that that perp walk
was prejudicial.

We'll all take a hit.

But at the end of the day,
with this judge,

he'll do a year at rikers
for the lesser charge.

Got to come over
on the Mayflower

in order to make
a rape charge stick.

How'd she take it?



Nice working with you.

I don't think that
she was lying about being raped.

Would you
shut the door please?

Elliot put his papers in.

There was nothing I could do.

He's earned it.

And then some.

You wanna talk?


You wanna take a day?

I'm fine.


I'm sorry.

You okay?

- Yeah.
- Be right there.

Got a ten thirty-four
on Waverly.

Fin, take Rollins.

No, I'll go.

Give me five,
and we'll roll.