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Presumed Guilty - Recap

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The episode begins at an office party of the SVU Unit. Its yuletide and everyone is busy celebrating. A little girl named Sophia gives a priest her painting, while he is sitting in his car. He tells her how much she likes the painting and hugs her. Just then someone breaks his car window. The priest asks Sophia to run. The person drags the priest out of the car and begins beating him up. Sophia hides and from a distance sees the whole thing. Later the senseless priest is sent to hospital by the cops. A homeless man is found nearby and blamed for the whole thing.

He says he did nothing and is being falsely blamed, but the cops don’t believe him as a man in the crowd says he saw the homeless man do it. At the party, Finn’s ex-wife Teresa pays him a visit. She tells Finn that her brother Sam got arrested. “They say he carjacked a priest. Vigilantes beat him” Teresa tells Finn. She feels Sam is innocent. Teresa tells Finn that Sam is reformed, although he had a checkered past. Finn finds it difficult to believe that Sam isn’t at fault. Finn tells Olivia and Rollins about it. Finn tells Rollins that Sam is out on parole and was jailed for a number of crimes like auto theft etc. Finn and Rollins meet Sam at the precinct. He tells them he is innocent and is being victimized as he is black.

Sam tells Finn he was in fact trying to save the priest who was being beaten up by a bunch of guys. He also tells Finn and Rollins about the little girl he saw running out of the priest’s car. Later, Olivia and team begin investigating the case. Olivia mentions how Sam had heard the attackers calling the priest Father Shay a pedophile. Finn gets a text informing him that Father Shay has gained consciousness. The team decides to question the priest at the hospital. The priest tells Nick and Finn that he simply got jumped, because his attackers wanted to rob him. Nick tells Shay that they have a suspect in custody and want him identify the suspect. Finn shows Shay, Sam’s picture and Shay immediately recognizes Sam as the man who saved him from the attackers.

Shay says there were two guys who attacked him, but he couldn’t make out their faces. Shay also tells Nick about Sophia and gives him the details about her whereabouts. Olivia and Nick decide to talk to Sophia to see if they can find out details about the assailants. They meet Margarita, Sophia’s mother. Margarita assures Nick and Olivia that Shay has been nothing but kind to Sophia and has in fact been instrumental in her development. She assures them that just because his attackers called him a pedophile, it doesn’t make him one. Olivia still wants to talk to Sophia as she feels Margarita is in denial and is possibly hiding something. Sophia recounts to Nick and Olivia all that happened. She tells Nick how Sam tried to save the priest from the attackers and also mentions that the attackers spoke Spanish.

Finn and Rollins are informed that the prints from the priest’s car door handle match an Adam Benitez, who has been convicted twice for assaulting registered sex offenders. Rollins finds this odd as Shay was never accused. “Maybe Benitez knows something we don’t” Finn says. The two, later arrest Benitez. At the station Benitez tells them how he as a child was abused by his uncle. Benitez says he and his friend saw the priest hugging the little girl and assumed the worst. The two, later arrest Enrique Rodriguez, Benitez’s friend. Enrique tells the two that his sister was raped by Shay. Later at the hospital, Nick and Olivia ask the priest to come to the hospital with them, so he can identify his attackers. At the station Olivia and Nick ask Enrique to tell them everything about Shay abusing his sister.

They promise to help him out if he tells them the truth. He reveals how his sister Angelica, who was only thirteen, was forced to abort by Shay. He had assumed she was spending time at the church with Father Shay and he was counseling her. He never knew the truth until one day she told him. Enrique further reveals that Shay blamed Angelica for it and accused her of seducing him. Olivia suggests that he get Angelica to testify in front of a jury so Shay can be tried. Enrique isn’t ready for that as Angelica is in the rehab and is a mess. Later Shay identifies Enrique as his attacker. He says he isn’t going to testify against Enrique in court and send him to jail. Olivia asks Shay why he would do that. “Because you gave him good reason to attack you?” she adds. Shay says Enrique deserves forgiveness. Olivia can hold it in no longer and brings up Angelica. Shay is then shown the recording of what Enrique said about him. Shay is overcome with emotions and begins to sob on seeing the recording.

Finn and Rollins later meet up with Angelica at the rehab. They tell her about Enrique. She is shocked to hear that he has been arrested for assaulting a priest. She blames herself for telling him about what happened with her. Finn says she could prevent Enrique from going to jail, if she testified that she was molested. Later at the station, Angelica recognizes Shay from a lineup, but tells Olivia that Shay wasn’t the one who molested her. Olivia feels Angelica is scared and is therefore trying to hide the truth, but Angelica insists that it wasn’t Father Shay who molested her. Angelica tells them that it was Shay who helped her, after she aborted. She reveals that she confessed everything to Shay including the name of the priest who molested her.

Angelica is reluctant to name the priest, but Olivia and Rollins assure her that they will be with her every step of the way and therefore she doesn’t need to be scared of anything. Nick tries getting it out of Shay as to who the culprit is, but Shay is adamant that he won’t name the priest, as he has sworn not to. “I gave him my word” Shay says. Nick questions Shay as to why he is protecting this person and why he matters to him so much. Then suddenly he realizes who this person is and rushes out. Nick and Olivia then pay Margarita a visit. They manage to get her to confess to the fact that Sophia is Shay’s daughter. Later at the station, they confront Shay about this fact. He confesses that he loved Margarita and had Sophia with her.

Nick assumes Father Menendez, Shay’s superior, who actually molested Angelica, knew about this and blackmailed Shay into keeping quite. Shay counters that it wasn’t like that. He then recounts how he went to Menendez regarding Angelica’s issue, but discovered that it was Menendez himself who was the culprit. Menendez basically confessed his crime to Shay and told him that “it was a onetime weakness”. “Once he confessed you were bound by the vow of the confession” Nick infers. Olivia tells Shay that he has to testify in court and he reluctantly agrees. Angelica in the meantime tells Enrique that she never told him it was Father Shay who molested her, but only that she was molested. He assumed it was Shay only because Shay was transferred out of the parish, right after the incident.

Finn manages to get Sam released so he can spend Christmas with his family. Nick in the meantime procures the warrant to arrest Menendez. He waits outside the church for the mass to finish so he can arrest Menendez; he hears gunshots from inside the church just as people are leaving. He rushes inside and sees that Menendez has been shot. He also sees Angelica sitting nearby. Turns out, she is the one who shot him. He tells her he was there to arrest Menendez. “It’s too late” Angelica replies. Nick places her under arrest. The episode ends at this point.