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Persona

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"Persona"
SVU, Episode 10.08
Production number: 10008
First aired: 25 November 2008
  210th of 366 produced in SVU  
{{{nNthReleasedInSeries}}}th of 366 released in SVU
  {{{nNthReleasedInAll}}}th of 1106 released in all  
Donnelly Persona
Written By
Amanda Green

Directed By
Helen Shaver


Benson tries to helps a woman who's the victim of spousal abuse, going so far as to hide in the stairway to protect her. While hiding, Benson uncovers another long-buried crime.

Summary Edit

While trying to stop a case of domestic abuse, Benson crosses paths with a woman who has been a fugitive for over 30 years and claims that she was also a domestic abuse victim.

Plot Edit

A woman tries to get the morning after pill at a pharmacy, but the when the pharmacist refuses to give it to her, she assaults the woman and while being arrested, reveals that she needs it because she was raped. In the hospital, Mia Latimer tells them while returning home that night, a stranger raped her in the alley outside of her home. However, at the crime scene fresh motor oil had been spilled in the alley where Mia said she had been attacked, making it impossible for that to be the place where she to have been raped.

When Benson and Stabler visit her at her home to confront her about her lie, she apologizes but before she can say anymore, her husband comes home early. They instantly suspect Brent for beating and raping Mia and say they're investigating a string of burglaries. They question the Latimer's basement tenants, the Malcolms. While the husband Jonah knows exactly what's going on, Linnie denies anything's wrong until pressed. Since Brent owns their apartment, Linnie is hesitant to help the detectives further with their investigations. However, when Mia reminds her of a friend who also suffered domestic abuse, Benson tells her how hard it is for victims to save themselves and asks whether or not Linnie helped her friend (which she didn't). They manage to have Mia admit to how Brent controls, beats, and raped her and she finally presses charges.

After arraignment, Brent makes bail but a restraining order is put in place. However, he cuts Mia off financially and she has nowhere else to go to. Olivia and Linnie try to get her to go to a women's shelter, but Mia resists, saying she'd been poor all her life before meeting Brent and she's sick of it. Linnie tells her of her friend and Mia decides to go.

However, the next day, Mia has completely recanted her statement. Though Linnie is now unsympathetic, Olivia decides to stay in an unused stairway just in case. When she hears fighting, she breaks into the apartment too late, as Brent has stabbed Mia in the chest. Brent insists she struck first but Benson cuffs him before rushing to Mia, who bleeds to death before she or Linnie can call for help. Linnie blames Olivia for aggravating the tensions between the couple but Cragen says she did all that she could have done. After a suspect kit rules out Mia having attacked Brent, he's found guilty of murder and rape and will most certainly receive life imprisonment. While gathering evidence against him, O'Halloran has also found evidence that could help solve a cold case; the murder of Vincent Cresswell, by his wife Caroline Cresswell. Shockingly, the photo of Caroline is that of a younger Linnie Malcolm.

Linnie explains to Benson that she met Vincent when she was young, during Vietnam anti-war protests, but when the war was over he began using drugs and started blaming her for his failures. He became abusive and so unstable that he started threatening to kill her and then himself with a gun he bought, which she honestly believed. She managed to save up enough money to run away when her husband found it. He accused her of being a whore and repeated raped her. After he had fallen asleep, Linnie stole the gun from under his pillow and shot him dead and allowed herself to be arrested.

She never admitted to the rape until she told Benson. According to Cragen, marital rape didn't become a crime until 1984 and had she been charged back then with how it would be now, it would have been deemed self-defense and she probably would have gotten probation for her escape. As long as her story can be proven, Greylek doesn't intend to send her to prison, but Judge Donnelly, whose watch Linnie escaped on, returns to the DA's office to prosecute Linnie herself.

When an outraged Benson goes to Donnellly about her going after a rape victim, Donelly reveals her history starting out as a young ADA, and while she's no longer bitter about the ridicule she received because of Linnie's escape, she wants to bring her to justice because she knows Linnie's guilty. Donnelly believes Linnie to be very manipulative and is taking advantage of Olivia's trust just like how she did with Donnelly years ago. Linnie's escape is all the proof she needs of her guilt and since there's no evidence of rape, Donnelly doesn't believe her claim.

Benson believes Linnie however as she cared so much about her disabled current husband and her abused neighbor and gets her to tell the full story on the stand: after the rape was over, her husband said that he planned to do it again when he woke up and he showed no remorse because he knew she liked it. Linnie grabbed the gun and just kept shooting as the images of the rape flashed through her head and she wanted to get them out of there.

Donnelly cross-examines her, pointing out her escape as proof that she was guilty of murder as she planned it, sending a note to Donnelly to discuss a plea and then fleeing, but Linnie finally reveals why she wanted to see Donnelly: she was pregnant and wanted an abortion but couldn't get it in prison. She was planning on pleading guilty if Donnelly let her get the abortion, but after seeing how headstrong Donnelly was compared to how weak she felt, she lost her nerve in admitting to the rape and asking for the abortion and fled instead. This clearly surprises and affects Donnelly who stops going after her.

Linnie is found not guilty of murder, but guilty of the escape. To Linnie and Benson's surprise, Donnelly announces that at sentencing she plans to ask for probation which the judge says she agrees with too. Benson tells Linnie that because of this, Linnie will likely be a free woman in just a few weeks. Donnelly tells Linnie that she changed her mind because Linnie reminded her of why she wanted to be a lawyer in the first place, to help the victims of crimes. Linnie's husband Jonah is happy for her, but can't forgive her as he wanted children and grandchildren and Linnie deprived him of that (she got the abortion after they got together) and he leaves her, leaving her devastated.

Cast Edit

Main cast Edit

Recurring cast Edit

Guest cast Edit

References Edit

Quotes Edit

Judge Preston: I assume the People request Remand?

Donnelly: Unless you want to give her another 34 years on the Lam.

Zimmer: Your Honor, we request home confinement with electronic monitoring. My client is her husband's sole caretaker. His disability requires round-the-clock assistance. Donnelly: Hire a nurse. She won't shoot him in his sleep. Judge Preston: Elizabeth, I expect better of you.

Donnelly: Did you ask Linnie how she escaped?
Benson: No. Does it matter?
Donnelly: She asked for a meeting to discuss a plea bargain. I let her use the bathroom, she crawled out the window.
Benson: So you took the fall?
Donnelly: For years, whenever a rookie ADA pulled a stupid move, it was known as "doin' a Donnelly."

Brent: You've got a lot of nerve, detective.
Benson: Why? Because you can't tell me what to do?

Background information and notes Edit

  • Much of Donnelly's recount about her career history, particularly the detail about her requiring a note from her husband to try homicides, appears to be based on a New York Magazine interview with Manhattan D.A. candidate and Law & Order legal consultant Leslie Crocker Snyder - the first head of the Sex Crimes division in the Manhattan District Attorney's office and co author of the state's rape shield law.

Episode scene cards Edit

1 2 3 4

Latimer Residence
11 East 83rd Street
Monday, November 3

Domestic Violence
Safe House
Brooklyn, New York
Tuesday, November 4

Crime Lab
One Police Plaza
Thursday, November 6

Riker's Island
Wednesday, November 19


Previous episode:
"Wildlife"
"Persona"
Law & Order: Special Victims Unit
Season 10
Next episode:
"PTSD"
Seasons 123456789101112131415161718

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