Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (season 3)

The third season of the television series, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit premiered Friday, September 28, 2001 and ended Friday, May 17, 2002 on NBC. It occupied the Friday 10pm/9c timeslot once again.

Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (season 3)
L&O SVU season 3 DVD.jpg
Season 3 U.S. DVD cover
Country of originUnited States
No. of episodes23
Original networkNBC
Original releaseSeptember 28, 2001 (2001-09-28) –
May 17, 2002 (2002-05-17)
Season chronology
← Previous
Season 2
Next →
Season 4
List of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit episodes


In the aftermath of 9/11, several cast and crew members volunteered to help the rescue effort.[1] The main title voiceover by Steven Zirnkilton was also changed for one episode only to include the following dedication: "On September 11, 2001, New York City was ruthlessly and criminally attacked. While no tribute can ever heal the pain of that day, the producers of Law & Order dedicate this season to the victims and their families and to the firefighters and police officers who remind us every day with their lives and courage what it truly means to be an American". Syndicated airings of the episodes replaced this dialogue with the original title voiceover. The opening sequence changed as well; NBC ordered the opening credits for the third season re-edited to remove images of the World Trade Center, which were seen at the beginning and ending; the credit sequences in the previous two seasons were not subsequently changed.

With David J. Burke having left the show at the end of the second season, Neal Baer was the sole showrunner / executive producer of Season 3. During the production of the third season, Baer convinced Amanda Green to begin writing scripts. Green was already serving as a consultant for the series while she worked for the NYPD. The episode "Counterfeit" became her debut as a writer.[2] Tara Butters and Michele Fazekas who also joined the writing staff in the third season enjoyed the freedom of not having to meet with a large team in a writer's room. "As a result, there was no sense of competitiveness. We were working on our own so it was like writing your own mini-feature."[3]

Cast changes and returning charactersEdit

All second season main cast members returned for the third season of the series. BD Wong returned to play forensic psychiatrist Dr. George Huang. He was originally contracted to appear in two episodes at the end of the second season and two episodes at the beginning of the third. As Wong puts it "They asked me to come and do four episodes as a kind of audition, to see if it worked, and after those four episodes they asked me to stay on."[4] Wong credited the New York-based show with giving him the opportunity to regularly act in theatre.[5]

Four cast members of SVU who would recur in subsequent years first appeared in the third season. In "Counterfeit," Robert John Burke began playing NYPD Internal Affairs Sergeant Ed Tucker when it is believed that the Special Victims Unit has been guilty of misconduct. Peter Hermann first played Defense Attorney Trevor Langan in "Monogamy," the episode on which Hermann and Hargitay, who would later marry, first met. The show later hinted in future seasons a light romantic flame between them. In "Surveillance," Joel de la Fuente first appears as the Technical Assistance Response Unit analyst Ruben Morales; at auditions the character was called "Burt Trevor," but this name was given to a different technician.[6] Finally, Judith Light joined the recurring cast in "Guilt" as Alex Cabot's strict boss, Bureau Chief ADA Elizabeth Donnelly. Light was already a fan of the program, saying "You can see when you watch a show like this, the level of professionalism going into it."[7]


Main castEdit

Recurring castEdit

Guest starsEdit

Piper Laurie played the abusive grandmother Dorothy Rudd in "Care".[8] Neal Baer, who met the actress through ER told Entertainment Weekly that "she played it in a real way that truly was frightening."[9]

The show "Wrath" has been repeatedly mentioned by Mariska Hargitay as one of her favorites.[10] For the episode, Justin Kirk portrayed the wrongfully imprisoned man Eric Plummer. Upon being freed, he kills four people to exact revenge upon the police and Olivia Benson in particular. The scene in which Benson shoots Plummer was described as being very challenging to act. In an interview with Universal Channel, Hargitay said "I shot him dead and some things happened to me physically that I wasn't expecting."[11] Although the video was cut to disguise it, Hargitay in fact mentions two Season 3 episodes in the interview. The second is "Inheritance" which shows Benson identify with a suspect who is a child of rape like herself. Marcus Chong played the suspect Darrell Guan who exemplifies the aggressive characteristics of his father.

John Ritter portrayed a doctor accused of murdering his wife in the 2002 episode "Monogamy", which aired shortly before his death in 2003. NBC promoted the episode with the tagline "See John Ritter as you've never seen him before."

The episode "Ridicule" portrayed a man as a victim of gang rape by women for the first time on network television. The victim Peter Smith was played by Pete Starrett while his rapists were played by Paige Turco and Diane Neal, who would join the cast playing ADA Casey Novak in the fifth season after Stephanie March left the series. Mike Doyle portrayed Assistant Medical Examiner Karlan in the episode "Prodigy" before portraying CSU Forensics Technician Ryan O'Halloran in the fifth season.

Nick Chinlund guest starred as condemned serial killer Matthew Brodus in the episode "Execution". Chinlund had originally auditioned to portray the role of Detective Elliot Stabler. John Ritter guest starred as Dr. Manning, a psychiatrist who becomes the prime suspect in his wife's murder, in the episode "Monogamy". Ritter was praised for his performance in the episode, which aired shortly before his death; Michael Buckley of TV Guide wrote that "The gradual change in his demeanor makes for a memorable piece of acting."[12]

Martha Plimpton was nominated for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series for her role in "Denial".[13] She played Claire Rinato, a drug addict who is traumatized by having learned terrible things about her mother, played by Mary Steenburgen. Detective Tutuola tries to help her character recover from the addiction using his background as a narcotics detective. In "Guilt", Bret Harrison played Sam Cavanaugh, a child molestation victim who is reluctant to testify against his abuser. This appearance later helped Harrison secure his best known role in Reaper, which was created by the same writers as "Guilt".[14]

In the second last episode, "Competence", a girl with Down Syndrome struggles to prove that she is mentally competent to take care of a child. Lois Smith played the girl's mother and James Badge Dale played the girl's boyfriend. One of the writers of the episode, Robert F. Campbell, mentioned Lois Smith and "Competence" when reflecting on his favourite experiences as an SVU writer.[15] The season finale "Silence" deals with sexual abuse in the Catholic Church. Eric Stoltz portrayed a priest who initially lies to protect clergymen higher up but eventually comes forward with the truth. Charlayne Woodard guest starred in the finale as Sister Peg, a role which she later reprised several times.


No. in
TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal air dateProd.
U.S. viewers
441"Repression"Henry J. BronchteinMarilyn OsbornSeptember 28, 2001 (2001-09-28)E231015.80[16]
When a therapist (Shirley Knight) helps eighteen-year-old Megan Ramsey (Kelly Hutchinson) recall her childhood molestation by her father (Brian Kerwin), she reports the incest to detectives Benson and Stabler hoping it would spare her younger sisters from suffering the same fate. At first her mother (Amy Irving) does not believe her, but eventually her entire family turns on the father, ignoring his protests that are assisted by the discovery of tainted evidence. The whole fragile family later becomes a suspect when the father is murdered. Eventually it is proven Megan is a virgin and the rape was a false memory planted by her therapist. Megan's sister (Blythe Auffarth) confesses to accidentally killing her father and the police arrest the therapist and charge her with reckless endangerment.
452"Wrath"Jean de SegonzacJudith McCrearyOctober 5, 2001 (2001-10-05)E231415.04[17]

Three unrelated people, who are connected to Detective Benson's past cases, are found ritualistically murdered. It turns out that the murderer (Justin Kirk) is bent on revenge because he was previously arrested by Benson and spent years in prison for a crime he did not commit. When this is revealed, Benson is distraught with grief and feels that she has failed her most important duty. Despite the threat to her life, she obsesses over the case and sets out to make things right.

463"Stolen"James QuinnJonathan Greene & Robert F. CampbellOctober 12, 2001 (2001-10-12)E231517.20[16]
When a baby is abducted from her mother (Kerri Green) in a grocery store, Detectives Benson and Stabler are led to Mark Sanford (Bruce Altman), a private adoption lawyer with dubious business practices. The investigation of the adoption service opens up a twelve-year-old case originally handled by Sgt. Max Greevey and Don Cragen involving a twelve year old boy (Ian Cronin) who has been missing since he was a baby after his mother was murdered. Captain Cragen teams up with Munch to solve the case.
474"Rooftop"Steve ShillStory by : Neal Baer & Robert F. Campbell & Jonathan Greene
Teleplay by : Robert F. Campbell & Jonathan Greene
October 19, 2001 (2001-10-19)E231815.44[17]
A series of rapes, each more violent than the previous, takes place in a community of African-Americans. Detectives Benson and Stabler promptly suspect a known HIV-positive sex offender (Dorian Missick) who was recently released from jail (character partly inspired by real-life sex offender Nushawn Williams), however he dies of an overdose and is found on a rooftop. The attacks continue and Detective Tutuola's childhood friends' daughter is killed. As they find nothing, her brother Rodney Thompson (Todd Williams) accuses the police of limiting the budget put on the case. Only when a fifth victim is killed, do her final moments alongside Thompson's persistence give them what they need to find the killer.
485"Tangled"Jean de SegonzacLisa Marie Petersen & Dawn DeNoonOctober 26, 2001 (2001-10-26)E231216.50[16]
A known doctor is killed and his wife (Lisa Eichhorn) is raped. Detectives Benson and Stabler question the doctor's estranged and troubled son (Geoffrey Wigdor) from the doctor's previous marriage. They also locate a former patient (John-Lule Montias) who holds a grudge against the doctor. When the rapist then attacks the doctor's former mistress (Liza Weil), the squad realizes that both the wife and the mistress know more than they let on.
496"Redemption"Ted KotcheffJeff EckerleNovember 2, 2001 (2001-11-02)E231914.58[17]
Detective Stabler is paired with John "Hawk" Hawkins (David Keith), an unstable, "cowboy" cop, much to Benson's chagrin. They try to catch a serial rapist and murderer. Their suspect is a recently released prisoner (Kevin Chamberlin), who was put in jail years ago due to Hawk. Alas, they come to deduce that not only is the predator someone else, but that the former prisoner is innocent of the previous murders, which means that Hawk was responsible for putting an innocent man behind bars.
507"Sacrifice"Lesli Linka GlatterStory by : Javier Grillo-Marxuach
Teleplay by : Javier Grillo-Marxuach & Samantha Howard Corbin
November 9, 2001 (2001-11-09)E230916.20[17]
An unidentified man (Mark-Paul Gosselaar) is found shot and sexually assaulted in an alley outside of a gay bar. Detectives Benson and Stabler learn that the victim and his wife (Elizabeth Banks) have a young daughter (Audrey Twitchell) with cystic fibrosis and that they worked in the porn industry to pay for her medical bills. The lead witness (Kevin Geer), who is a recovering drug addict, angers Fin, causing him to re-think his police role.
518"Inheritance"Juan J. CampanellaStory by : Kathy Ebel
Teleplay by : Kathy Ebel & Michele Fazekas & Tara Butters
November 16, 2001 (2001-11-16)E231114.50[17]
A young Asian woman (Lynn Chen) is severely beaten and raped at a burglary site. Benson and Stabler initially suspect rival Asian gang members, who are in dispute over the victim's loyalty. This theory is disproven when they find another Asian victim and track down serial rapist Darrell Guan (Marcus Chong). Guan was ostracized throughout his childhood and feels that even his own mother (Wai Ching Ho) did not love him. The case hits close to home for Benson because Guan is also the product of a rape. The trial focuses on the impact of genetic predisposition versus environmental upbringing on the nature of violence.
529"Care"Gloria MuzioDawn DeNoon & Lisa Marie PetersenNovember 23, 2001 (2001-11-23)E231714.86[17]
A five-year-old girl is found viciously beaten to death in foster care. Detectives Benson and Stabler investigate her complicated family ties. They learn the girl's birth mother (Erika LaVonn) always tried to get back her daughter from the foster mother (Kathleen Wilhoite) and foster grandmother (Piper Laurie). They then investigate her introverted foster brother (Colin Fickes). Captain Cragen manages to reach out to him with the help of a video game.
5310"Ridicule"Constantine MakrisJudith McCrearyDecember 14, 2001 (2001-12-14)E231615.33[17]

A young wife's body is found after what seems to be an erotic asphyxiation accident. Detectives Benson and Stabler follow her link to a male stripper (Pete Starrett). He reveals their link was that he was recently gang raped by her and her two female lawyer friends, Amelia Chase (Diane Neal) and Pam Adler (Paige Turco) after the three women handcuffed him to a bed during a bachelorette party. ADA Cabot follows People v. Liberta (1984) and sues the women, who are represented by a defense attorney (CCH Pounder), for this non statutory female on male rape. The investigation of one of the women, Pam Adler, then reveals the suicide was in fact a murder, as the victim planned to come clean and expose her fellow rapists.

5411"Monogamy"Constantine MakrisMichele Fazekas & Tara ButtersJanuary 4, 2002 (2002-01-04)E232317.71[17]
A pregnant woman (Tricia Paoluccio) is attacked and has her baby ripped from her womb. Detectives Benson and Stabler quickly look for the baby hoping he's still alive. The woman's husband (John Ritter) seems shocked, but it is soon discovered she may have had an affair with a construction worker (Bobby Cannavale). In the resulting trial, ADA Alex Cabot tries to find a way to charge the husband while avoiding the controversial territory of reproductive rights.
5512"Protection"Alex ZakrzewskiJonathan Greene & Robert F. CampbellJanuary 11, 2002 (2002-01-11)E232717.00[16]
A six-year-old boy is abandoned by his mother (Elpidia Carrillo) in an emergency room after having been shot. Detectives Benson and Stabler look for his missing family members in order to find his shooter (Louie Leonardo) while Munch attempts to get through to the boy's ten-year-old brother (Jean-Luke Figueroa). Eventually, it becomes clear that the whole family is in danger.
5613"Prodigy"Steve ShillLisa Marie Petersen & Dawn DeNoonJanuary 18, 2002 (2002-01-18)E232616.03[17]
A man and a woman are stabbed during a supposedly romantic park encounter. The woman's head as well as her hands are missing, which makes it difficult for detectives Benson and Stabler to identify the victims. They soon learn that the crime scene was staged and that the woman was an officer of the Manhattan Federation for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. This leads them to various people from her organization, as well as its opposers, and a young sociopath (Michael Pitt) who had a troubled relationship with the woman. However they soon uncover a more violent suspect (Brian Sullivan) much more close.
5714"Counterfeit"Arthur W. ForneyAmanda GreenJanuary 25, 2002 (2002-01-25)E231316.76[17]
A woman's body is found near her car after she was raped. With Munch on crutches, Tutuola is paired with Benson to investigate what the motive was, as well as why was her car's trunk was full of forged drugs. When another woman, Francesca Jesner (Khrystyne Haje) is raped, she claims the rapist was a cop (Michael O'Keefe) who captured her by using a routine traffic stop. Their need to catch the cop escalates when Jesner is captured again.
5815"Execution"Alex ZakrzewskiJudith McCrearyFebruary 1, 2002 (2002-02-01)E232517.05[17]
In three days, serial killer Matthew Brodus (Nick Chinlund) is to be executed at the New Jersey State Prison. Detective Stabler and Dr. Huang race against time to figure out if he also killed and raped another woman, the confirmation of which will provide closure for her parents (William Hill and Laura Hughes).
5916"Popular"Jean de SegonzacStory by : Kathy Ebel & Stephen Belber
Teleplay by : Stephen Belber
March 1, 2002 (2002-03-01)E232915.80[16]
Detective Stabler's wife (Isabel Gillies) tells him that her nurse friend (Laura Duncan) at a local hospital treated a fourteen-year-old rape victim (Brittany Slattery), who refused to report the crime to the police or her family. Stabler decides to investigate her unofficially with the help of Detective Benson. They find out she and her classmates were involved with drugs and alcohol, a fact which troubles her family.
6017"Surveillance"Steve ShillJeff EckerleMarch 8, 2002 (2002-03-08)E232816.40[16]
A young cellist, Cassie Germaine (Emily Deschanel) is attacked in her apartment. Detectives Benson and Stabler investigate her orchestra conductor, Robert Prescott (Michael Nader). They learn he was involved with amateur erotic filmmaking, and that her apartment is surrounded with hidden cameras installed by a stalker.
6118"Guilt"David PlattMichele Fazekas & Tara ButtersMarch 29, 2002 (2002-03-29)E233214.40[16]
ADA Cabot works with a reluctant witness (Bret Harrison) and his mother (Kay Lenz) in a case of child molestation. She goes far beyond the line of duty to find evidence against the abuser (Beau Gravitte). She even sends Detectives Benson and Stabler to illegally search the boy's home and almost ruins the case and all of their careers.
6219"Justice"Juan J. CampanellaDawn DeNoon & Lisa Marie PetersenApril 5, 2002 (2002-04-05)E233116.60[16]
The stepdaughter of a judge (Keir Dullea) is raped and killed. The judge is known for throwing hard sentences on sex offenders. However, family secrets are revealed when the detectives learn that the girl was a pen-pal with many of the inmates put away by her stepfather.
6320"Greed"Constantine MakrisRobert F. Campbell & Jonathan GreeneApril 26, 2002 (2002-04-26)E233014.22[17]
The wife (Mary Beth Hurt) of a business man (Henry Winkler) is found raped and bludgeoned on their kitchen floor. With Munch on jury duty, Fin is paired with Cragen while Benson and Stabler head the investigation. Uncovering similarities with a previous attack, the detectives first suspect a serial rapist. Soon, however, the evidence leads to an elaborate and sinister plot.
6421"Denial"Steve ShillJudith McCrearyMay 3, 2002 (2002-05-03)E233416.70[16]
A drug addict (Martha Plimpton) is sexually assaulted. In her purse, detectives Benson and Stabler find a decomposing baby's finger. When looking for both her attacker and the baby, they suspect she might be withholding information to protect her mother (Mary Steenburgen) or grandmother (Estelle Parsons). Tutuola tries to help by getting her clean.
6522"Competence"Jud TaylorStory by : Jeff Eckerle & Jonathan Greene & Robert F. Campbell
Teleplay by : Jonathan Greene & Robert F. Campbell
May 10, 2002 (2002-05-10)E233517.30[16]
A woman (Lois Smith) reports her twenty-two-year-old daughter with Down Syndrome (Andrea Fay Friedman) is pregnant because a rapist (Matt DeCaro) took advantage of her innocence about sex. Detectives Benson and Stabler have to make sure that it is not just her mother being overprotective and in denial of her daughter's sex life. The girl's boyfriend (James Badge Dale) who also has Down Syndrome offer to help raise her baby. ADA Cabot then has to interfere and take on her superior, to settle the mother–daughter dispute on whether the daughter should have an abortion or not.
6623"Silence"Steve ShillPatrick HarbinsonMay 17, 2002 (2002-05-17)E310314.27[17]
A murder takes place in a church. Detectives Benson and Stabler learn that the murderer (Sean Dugan) had been paid off by the church to stop him from reporting how he was sexually abused by a priest as a child. He blames the church for taking away his innocence and accuses a priest from his youth, Father Michael (Eric Stoltz) of molesting him.


  1. ^ Leopold, Todd (2002-09-09). "Real Life Overwhelms Fiction for SVU Producer". CNN. Retrieved 2012-12-27.
  2. ^ Green and Dawn (2009), p. 27
  3. ^ Green and Dawn (2009), p. 32
  4. ^ Green and Dawn (2009), p. 175
  5. ^ Patterson, Tresa (2011-04-12). "B.D. Wong of 'Law and Order: SVU' Brings Talents to the Stage in Support of Symphony Space". Yahoo TV. Retrieved 2012-12-25.
  6. ^ Green and Dawn (2009), p. 179
  7. ^ Green and Dawn (2009), p. 181
  8. ^ Romine, Damon (2001-02-11). "Carrie's Mother on Law & Order: SVU". TV Guide. Retrieved 2012-12-25.
  9. ^ "Piper Laurie". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 2012-12-25.
  10. ^ "Benson's Best". Universal Channel. 2012-06-19. Archived from the original on 2012-06-22. Retrieved 2012-12-25.
  11. ^ Mariska Hargitay (2011). Mariska Hargitay on her favourite SVU episode. Universal Channel.
  12. ^ Buckley, Michael (2001). "Shrink Rap". TV Guide. Retrieved 2012-12-25.
  13. ^ "SVU Emmy Nominations". Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. Retrieved 2012-12-23.
  14. ^ Harrison, Bret (2009-04-12). "Bret Harrison Interview". Retrieved 2012-12-25.
  15. ^ "Interview with Producer Robert F. Campbell". The Eerie Digest. 2011-03-01. Retrieved 2012-12-25.
  16. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit - Series - Episode List - Season 3". TV Tango. Retrieved June 10, 2012.
  17. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m "SpotVault - Law & Order: SVU (NBC) - 2001-02". Spot Vault. December 9, 2011. Retrieved March 4, 2012.


  • Green, Susan; Dawn, Randee (2009). Law & Order: Special Victims Unit: The Unofficial Companion. Dallas: BenBella Books. ISBN 1-933771-88-7.

External linksEdit