“Parole Violations” was a simple, predictable, yet tightly written episode that was saved only by the performances of the guest stars. Marin Ireland was great as Sonny Carisi’s sister who was high strung and bouncing off the walls a bit. It’s understandable considering that she’s pregnant and isn’t sure at first whether her boyfriend Tommy was really raped or just lying to cover up an indiscretion with his parole officer. Michael Chernus was believable as the guy who is trying to get his life back together but find himself being taken advantage of in the worst way by his creepy parole officer, played to the nauseating hilt by Molly Price.
This was a decent feature for Peter Scanavino, giving viewers the chance to see him interact with family. We find he has two other sisters and it seems like Sonny may be the only one who is relatively normal and has a good sense of himself. I suspect that giving him two more sisters in addition to Bella leaves the door open for more family dysfunction at a later date, hopefully they won't be "special victims."
It was interesting that Rollins seemed skeptical of Tommy at first, likely because she’s seen the same behaviors in her sister, and we all know that didn’t turn out too well. I also suspect that she is still stinging from her own experiences with dealing with people in power who demand sexual favors, which may have helped her ultimately to see Tommy’s side of the story.
Barba commented that he couldn’t find one DA there who had taken a case like this to court. Clearly he forgot about a case that ADA Cabot took to court in the season 3 SVU episode “Ridicule." (Long time fans will recall this case as the first time Diane Neal appeared on SVU, as a suspect, not as ADA.) I think there was another case but now I can’t seem to find it.
And just for the record – always take the cannoli.
Here is the recap:
Mariska Hargitay – Sergeant Olivia Benson
Ice-T – Detective Odafin “Fin” Tutuola
Kelli Giddish - Detective Amanda Rollins
Danny Pino - Detective Nick Amaro
Raúl Esparza - ADA Rafael Barba
Peter Scanavino - Detective Dominick “Sonny” Carisi, Jr.
Michael Chernus - Tommy Sullivan
Marin Ireland - Bella Carisi
Molly Price - Donna Marshall
Joseph Lyle Taylor - Counselor Mickey D'Angelo
Chris McKinney – Ralph Kessel
Ami Brabson – Judge Karyn Blake
Biniam Tekola - Jordan Dolphy
Danny Rivera – Mover
Sean Patrick Folster – Court Officer
Christian Frazer – PO #1
Sonny Carisi is at his sister Bella’s apartment and she gushes over having a baby and all the baby things she now has. She and her boyfriend Tommy will be married in April. Tommy enters and surprised to see Carisi, then explains he has a meeting with his parole officer. Carisi asks how that is going and Tommy avoids answering, while Bella says Tommy got a promotion and is head of a moving team. Carisi thinks this is good news for Tommy’s PO. Bella adds they have a doctor’s appointment in the afternoon for her first sonogram. After Tommy leaves, Carisi takes in all the changes, and Bella gives him a loving punch and says they are happy, which makes him happy too.
Later, Tommy meets with Donna, his parole officer and he is antsy because she is very late. He explains he had a doctor’s appointment and when Donna tells him he should have made it a different date, he explains it is for Bella and she is pregnant and he tells her about his promotion. Donna seems to think this is a lot of stress and then orders he do a urine test. She tells him the bathroom is flooded – he asks “still?” – and she orders he do the test right there in the office. Donna threatens that if he declines, she’s ship his ass upstate right now He reluctantly complies.
Meanwhile, back at SVU, Carisi enters and offers cannoli to his co-workers. Bella rushes in, frantic that Tommy did not come home last night. She last spoke with him after her sonogram and he was still waiting for his PO and now his calls are going to voice mail. She did not call his parole officer. He takes her to an interview room and tells her not to worry, they will find him.
At the 11th precinct on Thursday, February 26, Carisi has found Tommy who was arrested for a bar fight. Carisi doesn’t want to cover for him and also says because Tommy is now in the system, his PO has already been notified. Tommy says he is not worried about that, and when Carisi says his PO officer will stick it to him, Tommy explains that “she” already has so no way she will bust her now. Tommy says his PO made her do it, and Carisi gets enraged, throwing Tommy against the car, angry Tommy cheated on his pregnant sister. Tommy explains she made him do it at gunpoint and begs Carisi not to tell Bella.
Later, back at SVU, Carisi explains Tommy’s problem with Benson and seems skeptical considering Tommy’s past history, Benson reminds him if Tommy was assaulted, Tommy will need his support. Carisi explains Tommy doesn’t get that he was assaulted and Benson explains it is hard for women to disclose but for men…she asks what Tommy told him. Carisi explains that his PO pressured him into sex after an in-office urine test and she pulled a gun on him. Carisi thinks because Tommy is a guy he had to be into it or nothing would have worked. He suspects Tommy went on a bender and cheated on Bella and that this is a ruse. Benson thinks Tommy was raped. Carisi asks if that is possible, and when Benson says “Carisi” he says he gets it, it is possible, but Tommy is never going to go there. Benson counters not with Carisi he won’t.
At 517 West 22nd Street on Thursday, February 26, Benson and Amaro approach Tommy while he is on a moving job. They discuss Tommy’s problem and Tommy tries to brush it off but Benson and Amaro convince him, for Bella’s sake, to go to the hospital to be test for STDs and evidence. They ask him to bring them his clothes from last night, Amaro saying that Donna is his PO and they don’t know what she would do or say about Tommy. As Tommy gets called back to his work, Benson gives him her business card and tells him to come in tomorrow and bring in the clothes he was wearing and they will take his statement. He takes her card and agrees.
Later, back at SVU, Benson discusses the situation with Carisi, Amaro, and Rollins. When Carisi hears Tommy came in and gave his statement, he asks if he was credible. Amaro seems supportive but Rollins seems skeptical, saying it looks bad that Tommy did not disclose until AFTER he violated his parole. Benson tells them to do their due diligence and see if CSU turns up anything on the clothes. Carisi explains Tommy hasn’t told his sister yet and they have to slow this down, and Benson tells Carisi he can’t be part of this investigation but he can walk Tommy and his sister trough where it can go. He agrees and then walks off. After he leaves, Benson continues the discussion with Amaro and Rollins. Amaro says Tommy’s PO, Donna Marshall, graduated with a Masters in social work and was at the top of her class. She has been at the downtown office for over a decade. Rollins adds that Donna’s boss, Ralph Kessel, cited her on the DOC website as having the lowest recidivism rate in his department. Benson suggests they invite him in. Rollins comments if they think the NYPD has a blue wall, they know how the department of corrections is going to frame this. Benson says she does, but wonders what if the genders were reversed, asking if Rollins is saying a respected male officer wouldn’t abuse his power to coerce a woman into sex? She reminds them of t he look they saw on Tommy’s face and his affect and they know something happened to him and they should take the case as seriously if it was a woman accusing a male PO.
Later, Benson welcomes Ralph Kessel into her office along with Amaro. When they explain a parolee made a rape accusation against a PO, he is surprised to hear it was against a female PO, Donna, and the accusation was made by a man. Benson explains that Donna pulled a gun on him and Ralph jokes about it and doesn’t believe it. Benson says legally they have to follow up and that he has to cooperate. He says of course, then asks for the name of the lying son of a bitch who is yanking their chain, saying if he is filing it is public record. But Benson doesn’t give him the name, only saying it is early in the investigation and it is clear Donna has his confidence so they’ve heard everything they need to. Benson get up from her desk to signal he should leave and he thanks them for having him.
Meanwhile, back at Tommy and Bella’s apartment, Bella is irate, saying she can’t believe it, asking if he had sex with his parole officer. Carisi tries to step in and she questions that he is defending him. Carisi explains that what happened with Donna and Tommy wasn’t sex; she forced him, she had a gun. Tommy swears to god, but Bella pushes him back, not believing it happened out of the blue, asking why would she do that? She asks him to tell her he didn’t come on to her, and he replies no, if he had a thing with her does she think he would be telling her about it? Bella asks what kind of sex was this, and Carisi explains it was not that kind of sex. Bella continues to berate Tommy, asking that he has sex all the way. Tommy counters that he had a gun to his head. Bella doesn’t believe the gun was at his head the whole time, saying “no chance!” Tommy says she is his PO and she said she could bust him right there so he did what she told him to do. Bella nags him that he couldn’t do it when her parents were asleep two doors down but he had no problem with a gun to his head? Sonny tells her that his boss has been doing this for a long time and she says this does happen, and she believes him. Bella is shocked that Carisi told his boss and asks in a loud voice if everybody knows Tommy slept with Donna but her? Tommy emphasizes he did not sleep with her and to stop saying that. There is a loud knock on the door and a woman’s voice yells out to Tommy, saying he’d better be in there because it is past curfew. Bella asks who is that, his girlfriend? . Carisi asks if Tommy has a home visit tonight, and Tommy says no as he moves to answer the door. Bella also makes a move to the door but Carisi puts his hand on her shoulder to stop her. Tommy opens the door and Donna walks in with two officers, saying this is a home inspection and to stay right where he is. She stops dead in her tracks when she sees Carisi and asks who the hell is he? He points to Bella and says he is her brother. Tommy questions if he can ask what this is about, and she says he can just shut his mouth. Bella stands there stunned, with her mouth agape. As they move through the house, Tommy says there is nothing here, but the other officer asks him what did Donna just say? Bella asks Tommy what did he do, and Tommy insists he didn’t do anything. Donna calls from another room saying she got something, and she brings out bags of oxycodone, saying it is ready for retail. Carisi looks stunned and Donna tells Tommy to put his hands behind his back. Tommy insists he’s never seen that before and Donna tells him he is under arrest for the possession of illegal prescription drugs. Tommy says those are not his, and Carisi tells him not to say another word unless he has a lawyer present. Donna says he’s right, he’d “better call Saul.” As they take Tommy away, Carisi shakes his head. Bella slams the door and asks Carisi why he didn’t tell them he is a cop. Carisi explains that would not have helped the situation. Bella is apoplectic, complaining Tommy is drinking, cheating, and now drugs…she’s supposed to be having this guy’s baby and she doesn’t even know who he is. She storms past Carisi and walks into another room,
Later, in jail, Carisi and Amaro speak with Tommy who swears those drugs are not his and thinks Donna planted them because he made the accusation and asks if they told her. When Amaro explains they spoke with Donna's supervisor, Carisi is surprised and Tommy says they should have never done that, those two are thick as thieves. Carisi tries to assure Tommy they were just doing their jobs but tells Amaro a heads up would have been appreciated. Amaro tries to get Tommy to focus on now, and asks if he can prove the oxy wasn’t his. Tommy asks how can he do this, and Amaro asks if his drug tests are all clean. Tommy says yes but Donna is claiming he is a dealer. He asks to call everything off about the accusation but Carisi explains it doesn’t work that way, they found the stuff in his house. Tommy comments that he’s done, he’s a three time loser. Carisi says not if they can prove she had a motive and was trying to discredit him. Amaro advises to go forward with the rape accusation as it makes the bust look like payback. Tommy asks who will believe him now, and Carisi says he does.
Back at SVU in Benson’s office, Amaro and Carisi update Benson and they think Donna planted the oxy at the surprise home visit. Amaro suggests they get the pills and baggie tested for touch DNA and hopefully Tommy’s won’t be on it. Carisi says it won’t be. Benson tells Amaro when he gives the lab the heads up on the baggies to remind them they are still waiting for the DNA on the clothes. As Amaro leaves, Carisi asks about the rape charge and Benson tells him they’ve been here before – the victim will be blamed and that Tommy is in for a fight. She asks how is Bella handling all this and he says she’s not; she blames him and so does Tommy. Benson assures him he did the right thing, and he says he hopes so as he leaves her office.
In the squad room, Carisi, Rollins, and Amaro discuss the case and Rollins takes a very skeptical approach, thinking Tommy has to hit bottom. She says some people need the drama. Carisi reminds Rollins he was there and the PO was out of Tommy’s room in half a minute. Rollins counters that somebody is lying and they have to figure out who. As she walks off, Carisi comments to Amaro that Rollins is big on tough love, and Amaro explains that Rollin’s sister played her so many times it taught her to expect the worse from family. Carisi counters that her family is not his family. Amaro reminds him Tommy is not his family, Bella is, and to look out for her. Amaro, who was on hold on the phone, hears that Tommy’s clothing tested positive for Donna’s saliva and fluids. Carisi says that proves they had sex, and Amaro says they can bring her in, she broke the law. He tells Carisi this is good news, and he counters to try telling that to his sister.
Later, while Bella walks down the street, Carisi tries to explain all this to her. She has serious doubts and is considering move in with their mom and dad to Staten Island. She draws the line at cheating and Carisi emphasizes Tommy was not cheating. Bella says her sisters kept telling her she could do better. Carisi says he loves his sisters but they are crazy; Theresa won’t even talk to a guy who makes less than $600K and Gina has been engaged 10 times and not to put too much stock in their opinion of Tommy. She asks why is he defending Tommy now, and he says Tommy has had his fair share of screw ups but this isn’t one of them. He brings up her pregnancy and Bella now has doubts about that she is only 10 weeks and has options and does not think she can raise a kid on her own.
Back at SVU, Benson and Rollins have Donna and her lawyer Counselor Mickey D'Angelo in interrogation. Bella makes it sound like Tommy was the aggressor. She seems flip over the whole situation but says he did not rape her and she enjoyed it and it felt good to feel wanted. Mickey tries to cut it short but Donna keeps on. Benson explains Tommy put in 3 requests this year for a new PO and Donna says it is because she is the toughest one in her office. Donna adds that parolees are manipulative and think they have the upper hand. Rollins asks isn’t the PO’s job not to allow the parolee an upper hand? Rollins presses about the gun, and Donna explains that she carries, and laughs, asking if Tommy alleges she had him at gunpoint. She laughs more, saying he was ready, willing, and able and asks if they think a man can respond like that under duress? Benson deadpans that actually they do. Mickey moves to get up to stop the interview and as she walks out, Donna says Tommy is a criminal and con artist and a recidivist; he came on to her and now he is claiming she is a rapist because his pregnant girlfriend found out that he cheated on her. She gives Benson a slap on her shoulder and walks out of the interrogation room. Mickey says there is nothing to see here and if they believe that scumbag’s story over a fellow officer’s. they should be ashamed of themselves.
As Donna and Mickey leave SVU, Rollins comments Donna is a piece of work and Benson adds she is a liar and that she lied right to their faces. Rollins counters that with a PO’s word against Tommy’s – they lawyer is right, Tommy is looking at 5 years for those pills. Amaro walks up and says maybe not; the lab report is back on the oxy and there is no trace of him but they found touch DNA belonging to a Jordan Dolphy, a paroled drug dealer. He asks them to guess who is his PPO?
At the apartment of Jordan Dolphy o Saturday, February 28, Amaro and Rollins come with police and a search warrant. They search and Rollins finds a bag of oxy. Jordan asks them for him to call Donna, and Amaro comments that she’s been his PO for 3 years and he’s passed all his drug tests. Jordan thinks this is a trap but Rollins says he is in trouble; they found his DNA on some oxy that Donna had. Jordan insists Donna made him give her that oxy. Rollins challenges it was in exchange for clean drug tests. Jordan tells his girlfriend to hold the call to Donna. He admits she adds just the right amount of vinegar to his urine and that she is special. Amaro asks what else does she get besides oxy, and he says other services. He says she is a divorced, lonely lady and to use their imagination; when she says it is time for the piss test that means it is time to unzip. He tried once to say no and she pulled a gun on him.
Later, Benson and Carisi are in Barba’s office and says they have DNA and Donna can’t deny they had sex so she says it was consensual. He calls it a classic she said-he said but in reverse. Carisi adds Donna maintains that if Tommy didn’t want it, it would have been physically impossible. Benson shows Barba photos of Tommy and Jordan and tells Carisi they can get experts to refute. They discuss Jordan’s claim and that Donna made him give her the oxy which she planted in Tommy’s apartment. Barba asks if both the male vics will testify in open court, and Benson says Jordan will and Carisi says that Tommy will too, he will talk to him. Barba reminds him to tell Tommy he will be subject to cross examination. Benson adds their stories are consistent, credible, and believable. Barba counters except for one thing: they’re men and he has never taken a case like this to court and can’t find one DA here who has. Carisi says he is not sure Bella will be there and Benson suggests she will talk to her. Barba comments this leaves them with just one problem – convincing 12 jurors that a woman can even rape a man.
In Benson’s apartment, she is sharing baby clothes with Bella and she tries to give advice to Bella and that Tommy’s story has checked out and they have another victim. Benson tries to reassure her Tommy did not want this and when Bella doesn’t believe this, Benson explains the process of the biological response. She asks Bella to trust her about Tommy. Noah makes a sound and Benson brings him out of the crib and brings him over to Bella.
In Supreme Court part 22 on Monday, March 2, Carisi is on the stand explaining about Tommy coming forward. Under cross, Mickey brings doubt that Tommy was trying to get his sympathy after been arrested and for cheating. Carisi slips and says Tommy was not even aware a man could be raped, and Mickey uses that to imply Benson and Amaro put the idea in his head after Carisi told them to talk to Tommy. Mickey says Tommy didn’t think he’d been raped at all until SVU detectives talked to him. Barba objects and the judge sustains it.
Later, Tommy is on the stand and recounts his story. He also explains she handcuffed one of his wrists to her desk and then explains the assault. His did not want to but his body responded. He was completely powerless and felt angry and terrified and worried about his fiancée and was worried Doona would send him back to jail or shoot her. He says POs have complete control. Under cross, Mickey questions that Tommy was able to still perform and he says he did not want to; He did not fight back or scream and admits she may have put down the gun at one point. Mickey says Tommy had one free hand and asks why he didn’t grab the gun? Tommy states if he would have done anything and if someone would have come in, who knows what she would have done? He only had 3 months probation left, and when Mickey brings up the oxy, Tommy states that was not his and that Donna planted it. Mickey states there are two possible scenarios: 1:) a dedicated parole officer forces him to have sex in her office and the next day plants the oxy with 3 other parole officers or 2:) Tommy goes out drinking and violates hi parole and gets arrested for fighting and the same PO follows up at his house and finds drug and then Tommy cries rape. Barba objects, asking the judge if they are on summation. Tommy comments the oxy was not his, and when Mickey asks if it belonged to his fiancée, Tommy states that is not what he meant. Mickey comments it’s not what Tommy meant or what he wanted, it’s not his fault…and asks if Tommy is just all tied up in knots. Barba objects and Mickey withdraws the statement and concludes his questioning. The judge orders a short recess.
Tommy apologizes to Barba but Barba says he did fine; cases look bad until all the pieces come together. He explains Jordan is up next and the jury will find out how the drugs got into Tommy’s apartment.
Outside the courtroom, Bella complains this is not fair and they made Tommy out to be the bad guy. Carisi comments “Welcome to my life.” Barba walks up to Carisi and asks if he has seen Jordan, but then turns to a court officer who says Jordan was jonesing for a smoke and he went outside. Barba testily tells the officer to come with them.
Barba and Carisi race out to the courthouse steps and Jordan is nowhere to be found. Barba admits to Carisi he had a bad feeling when prepping Jordan last night. Carisi challenges the officer, asking if he just let the guy go. The officer says Jordan was not under arrest Carisi shouts that he was a material witness. The officer flippantly says now he is immaterial, dryly asking what does she want from him. Carisi says to find him and the officer deadpans that he will get on that right away, then adds if he comes back into the building he will let him know. Carisi paces in disbelief.
The next say, Barba is back in the courtroom asking the judge for a continuance to find Jordan. Mickey mentions Donna’s right to a speedy trial and the judge will not grant Barba more time. He admits Jordan was his last witness and the prosecution now rests. When Mickey begins the defense case, he calls Jordan. Barba is stunned and the judge asks Mickey what is going on. Mickey explains that Jordan came to him after a sleepless night and told him that he was coerced by the police to lie to avoid a drug charge and is being coerced by the DA to lie. Barba denies this and says Mickey can’t call his witness. The judge comments it sounds like Jordan is not his witness anymore. Barba seethes.
In Supreme Court part 22 on Tuesday, March 3, Jordan testifies that the detectives did not arrest him when they found the oxy and they agreed they could make a deal if he testified against Donna, calling it a trumped up case against her. Jordon says that Donna has been nothing but good to him and he did not want her to go down for something he did, saying he sold the oxy to Tommy. She had nothing to do with it. Under cross, Barba looks gleeful as he questions Jordan about him not failing any drug tests while Donna has been his PO for 3 years. Jordan insists he is clean. The oxy was there for sale, he does not use. Barba questions if he shoots heroin, and Mickey objects, asking for the relevance, Barba explains it goes to motive, the witness claimed he was not using drugs and he is entitled to cross. The judge tells Jordan to answer and reminds him he is under oath. Jordan says he does not use heroin and when Barba asks Jordan to roll up his sleeves, Mickey objects. Jordan says Barba can’t make him do that and the judge says he can and tells him to comply. He rolls up his sleeves and it is obvious he has been using. Barba asks if those are fresh needle marks and when Jordan says yes, Barba asks how did he manage to pass 3 years of drug tests. Mickey says he would like to request a recess, and Barba asks “now?” stating Jordan is now his witness. The judge tells Barba to continue. Barba questions him about telling the SVU detectives that Donna doctored his urine tests with vinegar, and Jordan says he does not recall. Barba presses about Jordan telling the detectives about being coerced into sex with Donna in exchange for clean drug tests, and when Mickey objects, the judge overrules him. Jordan yells out to Kessel, who is sitting in the gallery, that he said he would fix this and the drug charge would just go away. Barba asks if he is referring to Donna’s boss, Ralph Kessel, asking if he convinced Jordan to testify for the defense. Jordan states they don’t get it, these people own your ass and they run the table. If you want to stay out of prison you do what they say. Mickey stands up and says he needs a recess, and Barba sarcastically comments “I’m sure you do.” Barba has no more questions. He walks over to Mickey with a grin on his face and whispers to never trust a junkie. Mickey quietly says “yeah.”
Afterwards in a court house meeting room, Barba meets with Benson and Mickey and Donna and Mickey says Donna will now plead to evidence tampering and will lose her job. Benson counters that she raped Tommy at gunpoint. Mickey says there is o evidence of that and if she takes the stand, a decorated police officer with an impeccable reputation and tearfully confesses to a sexual indiscretion, asking when was the last time a Manhattan jury convicted a woman of raping a man. Barba asks why are they here, and Mickey says Donna does not want to suffer the humiliation of taking the stand and discussing her sex life. Benson counters Donna wants to avoid the likelihood of going to jail. Mickey offers that they plead guilty to evidence tampering with a year probation. Barba asks about the rape, and Mickey says they will agree to sexual misconduct. Barba comments that is 5 years probation and she goes on the registry. When Donna says that will not work for her, Benson suggest she think about this; would a PO want to spend 5 years in prison? Donna agrees and then says they don’t know what it is like. She says the cops lock these animals up and then they never have to deal with them again. She is supposed to rehabilitate them and she gave up her life and her marriage for this job and then Tommy comes waltzing in all fuzzy talking about his pregnant girlfriend and his wonderful new life. Benson states that doesn’t give her the right to do what she did to him. She insists she tried to help him and shouts that she tried to help all of them and angrily says they take your hand and drag you down to their level. She adds they don’t want to change and they will never change. Barba tells Mickey it is time to get his client out of there, they are done. Donna and Mickey leave the room. As they leave, Benson shakes her head.
Back at Bella and Tommy’s apartment, Carisi explains to Bella that while Donna is not going to jail, she will lose her job and will be on probation and be on the sex offender registry. Kessel will be investigated and he will get tossed too. The DA will drop the drug charges against Tommy and he should be home soon and he will get a new parole officer. Bella moans they are back where they started. But Carisi asks are they? He says it took a real man to tell the truth in court and he did that for her and the baby. She says she knows. There is a knock on the door and opens it to see it is Tommy coming home. They embrace and he says it is all going to be okay, they will be okay. She says yeah and Carisi watches them as we fade to black.
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