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Mariska Hargitay Reacts to Raul Esparza 'SVU' Exit: 'Come Home Soon'

Law & Order: Special Victims Unit star Mariska Hargitay spoke out on the latest cast exit.

The actress, who plays sergeant Olivia Benson on the long-running crime procedural, took to Twitter after the end of Wednesday's all new episode to share some kind words for departing cast member Raul Esparza.

"One of the great honors of my life is to have shared the screen with the incredible scene partner, beautiful friend, giant heart, brilliant artist, kindest of men @RaulEEsparza. #SVU has been graced and great with you in it. Family always gets to come home... come home soon," the actress tweeted.

Esparza's A.D.A. Rafael Barba quit his job at the end of Wednesday's shocking episode. Esparza confirmed his exit from the long running NBC crime procedural after Wednesday's episode with a tweet. Esparza has been on the series since season 14.

"Goodbye Barba. Thank you. You changed my life. My squad. And you, you always, my Liv, my friend Mariska. I will always treasure my time with all of you," the actor tweeted.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Chicago Justice alum Philip Winchester will be joining SVU as a series regular to step into the role of A.D.A left behind by Esparza's departure.

Esparza's exit comes after an emotional episode that saw the return of Law & Order mothership veteran Sam Waterston to SVU.

"I've got to move on," Barba told Benson before a tearful embrace. According to Chernuchin's statement, that might not be the last time Barba is seen on the series — but it's unclear what "soon" means, exactly, and in what context he would be back.

"It has truly been an honor writing for Raul. The power, sensitivity and morality he brought to the character of Rafael Barba never failed to elevate our scripts," showrunner Michael Chernuchin said in a statement. "Raul is family and we look forward to seeing his talent shine in new projects. As for Barba, SVU fans may see him again soon."

SVU will return with all new episodes Wednesday, February 28 at 9 p.m. ET on NBC.