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At a victim's request, the police commissioner tries to convince Cragen to close a rape case whose statute of limitations is about to expire. Benson and Stabler finally realize that one of ... See full summary »


Constantine Makris


Dick Wolf (created by), Michael R. Perry


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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Christopher Meloni ... Detective Elliot Stabler (as Chris Meloni)
Mariska Hargitay ... Olivia Benson
Richard Belzer ... John Munch
Michelle Hurd ... Monique Jeffries
Dann Florek ... Donald Cragen
Jenny Bacon ... Jennifer Neal
Judith Hawking Judith Hawking ... Victoria Kraft
Jenna Stern ... A.D.A. Kathleen Eastman
Seana Kofoed ... Lois Creen
John Driver John Driver ... Police Commissioner Lyle Morris
Sam Freed ... Private Investigator
Isiah Whitlock Jr. ... Robbery Division Captain
John Doman ... Dan Latimer
Leslie Ayvazian Leslie Ayvazian ... Judge Susan Valdera
Harvey Atkin ... Judge Alan Ridenour


At a victim's request, the police commissioner tries to convince Cragen to close a rape case whose statute of limitations is about to expire. Benson and Stabler finally realize that one of the victims knows the rapist, but she's not willing to talk. Written by Jim Lankin

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


TV-14 | See all certifications »






Release Date:

11 February 2000 (USA) See more »

Filming Locations:

New York City, New York, USA

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


This episode is based on the real life rape case of Kathleen Ham, which was one of the cases that helped get the statute of limitations for first-degree rape removed in New York. Ms. Ham was raped at the age of 26 in 1973, much the same way the victim in this episode was raped: her attacker climbed into her bedroom through an open window while she was asleep and raped her. Her attacker, Fletcher Worrell, was captured a short time later. He was arrested, charged and brought to trial but his trial ended in a mistrial due to a hung jury. Before Mr. Worrell could be retried he jumped bail and disappeared. He was on the run for 33 years before a background check to buy a gun in Georgia brought up the open bench warrant on him. He was arrested by the Georgia State Police and extradited back to New York. At the time a rape couldn't be prosecuted 33 years later, but in Mr. Worrell's case the statute of limitations had stopped running when he was formally charged with raping Ms. Ham. Further, even if he had run before he was formally charged, the clock on the statute of limitations also stops running if the perpetrator of the crime flees the jurisdiction. The clock on Mr. Worrell's prosecution was stopped as long as he wasn't in the state of New York. When Mr. Worrell was rearrested, a DNA sample matched semen taken after the rape of Ms. Ham, which lead to Mr. Worrell's conviction. This case raised the issue that it could easily be possible to run into a similar case where the statute of limitations did expire on a case where there was DNA evidence that could prove a rape happened, but prosecution even with the DNA evidence would still be barred by the statute of limitations. So this case helped show how the ability to test DNA, which didn't exist at the time the limitations statute was written, made the need for a statute of limitations on rape outdated and no longer necessary. See more »


When Benson and Stabler are interviewing the retired detective at the bar, the level of milk in the glass varies as the camera angle changes. See more »


[a rape victim has been found in contempt of court for refusing to reveal her rapist's identity]
Captain Donald Cragen: Are you okay?
Detective Olivia Benson: We just put a rape victim in the lockup. No, I'm not okay.
See more »


References The Crow (1994) See more »

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User Reviews

Time is the limit
10 October 2019 | by TheLittleSongbirdSee all my reviews

'Law and Order: Special Victims Unit' is one of those shows that was good to brilliant in its early seasons. Thought initially that it "jumped the shark" later on, but re-watching the show over-time while the earlier seasons are quite a bit better the later seasons have grown on me somewhat and has seen some strong episodes. Not every episode in the earlier seasons worked from personal opinion but most did and the best of them fared brilliantly.

Of a solid and remarkably well settled if not completely consistent Season 1 (one of the better first seasons of the 'Law and Order' franchise), "Limitations" is not one of the best. Actually consider it one of the weaker ones, with the weakest ones of the previous episodes being "Wanderlust" and "Stocks and Bondage", while still finding a lot to like about it. It's just that the best episodes of Season 1, such as "Payback", "Uncivilised", "Stalked" and "Closure", are so good.

Will say what is good about "Limitations" first. It is as ever slickly shot without being drab or static while not being elaborate (which would not have been right). The music is only used when necessary and isn't over-the-top when it is used. The script has the mix of thoughtful, taut while having time to breathe and nuanced without being too loose mostly just right, apart from occasional lapses in realism.

The story mostly compels, especially in the latter stages with a big twist that genuinely shocks and lifts the episode, already interesting to begin with, to a better level. The ending is a genuine surprise. Great to have the courtroom scenes back after having a few episodes that were dominant on the police investigation and at times the personal lives and that aspect is done well. The acting is mostly fine, with Mariska Hargitay managing as ever a mix of a firm edge and empathy. What was very striking, other than the non-heavy handed portrayal of many of the different aspects of rape (the main ones like the psychology of it, the dilemmas the police face and legal system limitations handled with ease, was the portrayal of Quakerism. Which is mostly done very fairness, sensitivity, non-bias and not passing judgment.

Not everything works with a few things being off. Namely to do with the victim, not just the rather detached way she's written and performed (Jenny Baker lacks the necessary emotion for my tastes) but namely her refusal to tell the truth which was overdone, infuriating and not particularly realistic. Both also being against Quaker beliefs and behaviours too, rather too big an issue as they are fundamental.

A tighter pace at times would have helped at times too, the initial parts of the case are slightly on the dull and ordinary side.

In summation, decent but could have been better. 7/10

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