“Law & Order: SVU” Season 16 Episode 8 “Spousal Privilege” aired last Thursday, Nov. 18, 2014 at 9:00 p.m. on CBS. In this episode, the team investigated a possible domestic violence incident that became even more complicated. The couple involved, a retired football player turned reporter and his longtime girlfriend, tried to dismiss the case. This case in particular deeply affected both Detective Amanda Rollins (Kelli Giddish) and Detective Nick Amaro (Danny Pino). Read on to learn more about this episode.
The episode opened at the precinct. where the entire “squad room” heard Detective Nick Amaro (Danny Pino) arguing with his wife. The couple was fighting about the fact that she was not letting their daughter come over to his side of the family for Thanksgiving. As his wife, Maria, had hung up on him, Nick, in his anger, punched the lockers with his fist. Afterward, Detective Amanda Rollins (Kelli Giddish) told him to relax. However, he retaliated by telling her not to tell him “what to do.”
Sergeant Olivia Benson (Mariska Hargitay) told Detective Odafin “Fin” Tutuola (Ice-T) to wrap up his case up. It involved a hacker posting celebrity nude photos of both legal aged and underaged women. However, as he scrolled through the website, a particular video caught Nick’s eye, which they showed to Olivia a little bit later. The video showed retired football player Antione Jerard "AJ” Martin (Chad Coleman) harassing his “baby mama” and longtime girlfriend Paula Bryant (Meagan Good). They became even more alarmed when the next scene in the video showed him dragging Paula’s unconscious body across the garage, and helped her as she unsteadily got into their car, after being questioned by a patrolman. Amanda then told them that the video had been taken around six weeks ago, during a certain event in which AJ and Paula were present.
Nick and Amanda then went to the precinct in order to find out why charges were not pressed. The officer in charge then told them that Paula had “declined medical attention” and that she had said that it had been her fault as she had caused a scene. He then told them to talk to the District Attorney. It is about the one of the Assistant District Attorneys had labeled the case as “adjourned contemplating dismissal.”
Olivia and Fin then went to Assistant District Attorney Rafael Barba (Raul Esparza) who informed them the incident had been filed as a “drunken spat." He also said that Paula did not press charges as she claimed to have “tripped and fell.” Assistant District Attorney Danielle de Carlo then had offered AJ to adjourn the case so that he would just only get community service. It was a deal that even Barba gives to those who are uncooperative. However, AJ had turned the offer down. As the case was still open, Barba told Olivia and Fin to either get Paula to “change her story,” or to get video footage of what really happened in the stairwell.
At AJ’s and Paula’s house, before Olivia and Fin could ask them any questions, they were interrupted by Junior, AJ, and Paula’s son. AJ then raised his voice at him and told him to go to his room. Before he left, Olivia and Fin noticed that Junior had a look of terror on his face. They also noticed that when Paula started to talk about their son, she suddenly kept quiet after a look from AJ. Olivia, noticing the tension, decided to separate Paula from AJ by asking her where the bathroom was.
While they were gone, Fin told AJ that they were just there to ask some questions about that night because of the video that had surfaced. AJ told him that Paula had a little too much to drink and that they had verbally fought.
Meanwhile, Olivia asked Paula if there was anything else that Paula wanted to tell her about what had happened that night. However, Paula just said that she had gone after AJ after she had one drink too many, and had tripped over the stairs, which was strange as she was going up the stairs and wasn’t going down. AJ then came and interrupted them. He then told Olivia that anything she had to say or ask Paul should be done in front of him as well.
Back at the precinct, Amanda told Olivia that they could not get a hold of the security footage of the garage. They claimed that the footage gets scrubbed “every seven days.” Nick and Amanda then started to debate on their theories on what really happened. Amanda speculated that AJ could have been trying to fend her off. Olivia then told them to tune into LMZ on the television at that moment, as they were showing the footage of what exactly happened in the stairwell that night. In the video, it clearly showed AJ punching Paula in the face before he dragged her out.
Because of the new video that had popped up, they decided to bring both Paula and AJ in to be interviewed separately. Nick and Amanda questioned Paula, while Olivia and Fin questioned AJ. Paula insisted that she was not a victim. She then told them that she had gotten a little jealous of the women who wanted photographs and autographs of AJ. She then had made a scene. It embarrassed him in front of many important people, and that all he did was to try to protect her.
In the other room, AJ told Olivia and Fin that Paula had gotten mad at him. A lot of women had been flirting with him at the gala that they had attended. He then claimed that he had just been trying to stop her from tumbling down the stairs and that his “reflexes weren’t a hundred percent” as he had also been drinking.
In Olivia’s office, she and Barba both agreed that based on the video, he had clearly assaulted and punched her in the face. Barba then told Olivia that he did not want the case to go to trial since the jury would naturally side with AJ, who could be very charismatic and charming. However, as AJ refused to just do community service, they decided to bring it to court on the charge of “reckless endangerment.”
The next day, at Arraignment Court, AJ pleaded not guilty, and the judge set bail at $20,000. Afterward, Olivia tried to talk to Paula to get her to change her tune. She knew that this was not the first time that AJ had hurt her. This was confirmed after Paula refused to tell her to her face that this had been the first time that an incident like that had ever happened. However, Paula refused to cooperate with Olivia as she loved AJ and she knew that AJ loved her.
Later on during a television interview, Paula told everyone that there were “people who were invested” in making her the victim. On another show, they announced that they had finally gotten married in order to show the world that they were committed and deeply in love with each other.
At the Supreme Court, Barba’s first witness, a medical examiner, told the jury that since AJ was a football player, a punch from him would be more damaging than a regular person’s punch. However, Defense Attorney Rita Calhoun (Elizabeth Marvel) discredited him as he did not personally examine Paula’s injuries himself.
Barba’s second witness was Olivia, who told the court that Paula had continually insisted that the entire incident had been her fault. She also told the jury that it was common for victims of domestic violence and abuse to deny what had happened, and it was also common for them to “refuse to testify.” She also told the jury that just because someone was in denial about what had happened, it did not mean that it had not happened, and it also did not mean that it wouldn’t happen again.
During the cross-examination, Olivia told Calhoun that Paula did not directly say that she was scared of her husband. Calhoun then mentioned that it had been suggested to AJ that he should go to Anger Management therapy. He asked Olivia if she believed that the behavior could be corrected by Anger Management therapy. After Olivia said that she did not believe that it always helped correct behavior, Calhoun started talking about Nick. The man had also undergone Anger Management therapy after beating up a man. She then questioned Olivia’s standards as Nick had been reinstated as a detective. Olivia then tried to reason out that Nick had beaten up a “child abuser and not his wife."
Later that night, at a bar, Amanda asked Nick if he was okay after what had happened at court as Calhoun had no right to bring him up during the trial. However, she told him that Calhoun did have a point, that it wasn’t their right to choose what was best for Paula and AJ. Nick then told her to slow down her drinking. It seemed that she already had a lot to drink. She then got a little bit irritated at him. Nick then said that men should never hit women, but Amanda, a little bit annoyed at his trying to take care of her. Because she had one drink too many already, countered by saying that not all women wanted to be saved, like his wife, Maria. She then started to ask him if Maria had “gotten to him,” especially as everyone in the squad room had heard the quarrel he had earlier with Maria. When he would not respond, she kept on shoving him until he got angry. However, he swiped the glasses on the table so it fell down, and decided to pay for Amanda, and left the bar.
The next day, they discovered that AJ’s sports reporting days were over. The League had wanted to send a message that there was never any “excuse for domestic violence or child abuse.”
Fin noticed that Amanda was getting deeply affected by this case. He told her that in order to survive the Special Victims Unit, she could never take the “job home” with her, and she cannot also take “anyone from this job home with you.”
Back at the Supreme Court, the Martins pastor told the jury that both Paula and AJ truly and deeply loved each other. However, Barba disagreed and told him that he, as a pastor, did not really know what happens when either AJ or Paula or drunk, and he was not also there during that night.
AJ then took the stand and told the jury that he loved Paula and that he had not “meant to hurt her." He had testified as he wanted to “take responsibility” and to show his son what it meant to be a man. However, Barba countered as it seemed like AJ had not been initially telling the truth when he said that Paula had slipped and fell. He also pointed out that AJ had changed his tune once the video had gotten out, and when he was finally under oath in court. He also questioned why AJ had not called 911 right away when Paula had been unconscious because as an athlete, he of all people knew the damage a few seconds of unconsciousness could cause. He then told him that he did not understand how punching Paula and dragging her to the car showed his love for her.
Afterward, to Barba’s surprise, Calhoun asked the judge to allow Paula to take the stand, which the judge allowed. Barba then turned to Olivia for help, as she had interacted with Paula beforehand.
On the stand, Paula told the jury that AJ did not abuse her and that he did not deserve this. Barba then made the jury realize that AJ was a very controlling partner and spouse as Paula never went out without AJ being at her side. In fact, every time she answered one of Barba’s questions, she had to look at AJ first. He then asked how she felt whenever AJ shouted at their son. However, Paula told him that AJ did not yell, but just raised his voice in order to get Junior to behave. As Barba told her that it was not healthy, she told him to stop lecturing her. Barba asked Paula why she lied about what happened that night. She told the jury that she did not want to “lose him” or her family, after Barba told her not to look at AJ before answering.
Back at the precinct, while they waited for the verdict, Amanda told Olivia that she felt that AJ had learned his lesson. However, Olivia told her that she felt that he didn’t.
Back at court, the jury declared that they found AJ guilty of “reckless endangerment,” which meant that he would be placed at Riker’s “pending sentencing.” Outside, Barba told Olivia that AJ would probably get the minimum of two years. Paula then told Olivia that she had taken away her choice, and was as bad as AJ. Barba then reassured her that they had done the right thing, even if it meant that they had torn that family apart.
And that was all for the recap of “Law & Order: SVU” Season 16 Episode 8 “Spousal Privilege.” For more news, updates and recaps on “Law & Order: SVU” and other television shows, keep on following Movie News Guide (MNG).
Catch the next episode of “Law & Order: SVU” on Dec. 10, 2014 at 9:00 p.m. on NBC.
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