'Law & Order: SVU' Tackles Brett Kavanaugh-Inspired Case in Ripped From the Headlines Episode

Law & Order: Special Victims Unit tackled two big real-world stories in this week's episode, both in the shadow of the #MeToo movement. Fans at home instantly realized the stories SVU was inspired by.

In "Hell's Kitchen," Benson (Mariska Hargitay) and her team investigate the assault of Kayla Morgan (Genevieve Angelson), who was working as a waitress at an after-hours VIP party. At first, Kayla was apprehensive about it, even telling Benson and Rollins (Kelli Giddish) she was not a victim. However, during their investigation, the team discovers that a celebrity chef might be responsible.

The team also learns that the chef, Andrew Leibowitz (Luke Kirby) has assaulted other women, taking their panties for his own collection. He was previously accused by three other women, but he never faced charges.

Leibowitz's friend is an Assistant District Attorney, Chris Hodges (Jacob Pitts), who was thought to be a women's rights activist. After the team discovers Hodges' connection to the chef, a victim comes forward to accuse Hodges.

The woman, Bethany, has an allegation similar to Christine Blasey Ford's allegations against Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. She claimed Hodges assaulted her when she was 15, and another boy was there, cheering him on. Bethany said she was screaming "No," but he covered her mouth. Hodges put his hands down her shorts, but she managed to get away.

When they confront Hodges, he denies doing anything to Bethany at first. He claims he saved Bethany from being raped by Leibowitz. Even if he was telling the truth, he missed an opportunity to do right by Bethany.

"One way or the other, you're going to make this right," Benson told him.

"Whatever you want... because I'm not gonna let some girl I never laid a hand on destroy my reputation," Hodges said.

Later, Hodges agreed to wear a wire during a meeting with Leibowitz. First, he admitted that Kayla's story was correct.

"I don't want to get Judge Kavanaughed here," Hodges said.

However, Hodges' plan went awry when Leibowitz would not clear him of Bethany's allegations. In fact, he only confirmed Bethany's original allegations. Now, Hodges will face an investigation and the past rape allegations against Leibowitz have been re-opened.

There two stories are both based on real-life events. First, the allegations against a celebrity chef at a VIP party is similar to the controversy surrounding New York's once-famed restaurant, The Spotted Pig. In December 2017, owner Ken Friedman was accused of sexual assault. Employees there also accused Friedman of being aware of disgraced celebrity chef Mario Batali's inappropriate sexual behavior, The New York Times reported at the time.

"Hell's Kitchen" also references Kavanaugh, who was accused of sexual harassment by Ford during his nomination process. She reported how Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her at a party in the early 1980s, when they were both in high school. Kavanaugh vehemently denied the allegations and others levied against him. President Donald Trump agreed to order the FBI to run a brief investigation, which Republicans claimed found no corroborating evidence. Kavanaugh was then confirmed by the Senate 50-48.

Ford's attorneys criticized the FBI investigation, noting that their client was not interviewed during the investigation. On Thursday, they said in a statement to NPR that she is still receiving threats, more than a month after Kavanaugh's confirmation. She previously said she had to move four times, has paid for a security detail and has not returned to her job as a Palo Alto University professor.

Law & Order: SVU, and all other Law & Order shows, have been well-known for tackling ripped from the headlines stories. This season alone, the show has covered the disturbing world of incels, the infamous NXIVM cult, President Trump's immigration policies and school shootings.


New episodes of Law & Order: SVU air Thursdays at 10 p.m. ET.

Photo credit: Barbara Nitke/NBC