Jo Marlowe, Stabler's old partner before SVU, becomes the new ADA for the SVU team and enlists the help of Benson and Stabler in the case of two young girls, presumably left to die in a burning house by their father (Kevin Anderson). Upon further investigation by the SVU squad, however, it is discovered that the father did not set the fire that consumed his two daughters, later exposing the incorrect assumptions of a fire marshal (P.J. Benjamin) with the help of an independent pyrotechnic investigator (Brad Dourif).
Detectives Benson and Stabler must track down a pregnant rape victim (Hanna-Liina Võsa) who disappears from the hospital. In the process, they uncover a vast baby-trafficking scam, led by a Bulgarian crime lord (Pasha D. Lychnikoff). When the woman (Gordana Rashovich) who housed the pregnant mothers is discovered murdered, Benson and Stabler go undercover as infertile parents, while ADA Marlowe clashes with Cragen over methods to protect the kidnapped woman and her newborn child. Matters become complicated in the trial when the gynecologist (David Paymer) involved is assigned the same lawyer as the mob that used him for his access to pregnant women. He realizes that if he testifies truthfully he will be killed so a shadow counsel is arranged.
A homosexual prostitute (Pressly Coker) is found dead in the storage room of a hotel during a wedding reception with the ID of a friend named Andrew Hingam (John Magaro). Fin Tutuola questions his son Ken (Ernest Waddell) about the two boys since they were all known to volunteer at the same place. Ken leads Fin to Hingam who confesses to killing his friend in self defence. Hingam's case deepens when detectives learn that his psychiatrist (Ally Walker) who prescribes a regimen of drugs and electro convulsive therapy may be performing other procedures on him as well.
After a young woman is raped and murdered, the detectives suspect the woman's death was a consequence of her protests to expose the bad side of the meat-packing industry. Detective Benson goes undercover herself at a beef company and uncovers a dark secret.
A woman (Diora Baird) is raped and cut in her apartment building's stairwell and claims a black woman saved her by punching the perpetrator (Eric Lange) in the eye. The lady is identified as Nardalee Ula (Saidah Arrika Ekulona), an illegal immigrant from Democratic Republic of the Congo, who came to America after escaping a life of sexual abuse against women used by the country as a "weapon of war". After the victim dies from MRSA, Nardalee is the only one who can testify against the rapist, but risks being deported. After her successful testimony she is awarded a U-Visa, but declines it, saying she will be going back to the Congo to help save other women from sexual abuse. Meanwhile, ADA Cabot makes a shocking decision of her own.
When she fails to show up at a bus stop, Cara Raleigh (Lisa Arrindell Anderson), a disabled former opera singer with multiple sclerosis who cannot speak, is found by her bus driver (Ralph Byers), beaten and raped in her home. Her nephew (Quinton Aaron) gives an alibi that does not check out and her sister (Jill Scott) is seen physically abusing her on video. As a result, both caregivers become suspects. Cara eventually reveals that the bus driver was the rapist but is put in a nursing home and becomes unwilling to cooperate. Benson manages to persuade her to stand trial with the unit's temporary ADA (Teddy Sears).
A series of young prostitutes is found murdered with homemade prayer cards attached to their bodies leading Detectives Benson and Stabler to a religious zealot (Lee Tergesen). However, they find a prostitute (Mischa Barton) who survived his attacks and count on her testimony to put the killer away. Olivia is left to make a heartbreaking decision after the survivor asks for her help.
Cragen and the SVU squad find a woman dead in a garbage can soon after she is recorded being abducted by security cameras. Munch recalls a similar case from twenty years before, which sends Benson and Stabler to Sing Sing to speak to the supposed culprit (Yul Vazquez). The detectives discover that the building owner (Richard Burgi) actually committed both crimes after their investigation comes under fierce opposition from his lawyer (Lena Olin). The trial that follows focuses on the collateral damage caused by attorney–client privilege.
When a seventeen-year-old is found strangled and beaten to death in an alley, her ex-boyfriend (Brady Corbet) leads the cops to a website that she used to meet up with random men. Detective Benson decides to create a user account for the site and finds a womanizer (Brian Geraghty) who met with the victim and had sex with her without a condom. The case is closed when a different suspect is proven guilty of the murder but a new one opens when the rape kit tests positive for HIV. To help ADA Cabot prosecute the predator for knowingly spreading HIV, one of his previous partners (Mattie Hawkinson) is brought into court. When this fails to work, the defendant's grandfather (Jack Larson) blames himself for his grandson's misogyny and causes him to have an epiphany.
When a wealthy couple is found murdered in their bedroom, Benson and Stabler decide to speak to the deceased couple's daughter Anne (Sarah Paulson). After hearing her story of a strange man who has been following her, the detectives soon discover that the supposed stalker is Detective Ash Ramsey (Naveen Andrews) of the Special Frauds division. Convinced that Anne killed her parents for their money, Ramsey becomes suspicious of Anne's business manager (Dennis Boutsikaris) and is led to believe that he helped her steal money from the foundation she runs. With little evidence to go on, the detectives are able to buy some time by blackmailing the foundation's leader (Edward Hibbert) into pressing charges against Anne for embezzlement. Even though hitmen have been sent after them, Benson and Ramsey go out into the open as part of a dangerous sting operation.
A member of a dangerous biker gang is killed and Benson is the prime suspect.
Fin investigates a serial killer whose M.O. is murdering the children of immigrants.
When a young girl is murdered, the detectives blame a controlling therapist who thrives on his patients' dependence. The case takes an unexpected turn.
One of Detective Stabler's most trying cases is pushed to the back burner when his son becomes involved in an intervention gone awry.
Benson and Stabler learn a young boy is being molested by his stepfather, which leads to a disturbing case of adult-child relationships.
The FBI gets involved in a murder case when it becomes too dangerous for the SVU cops.
A young girl's deceit almost causes Stabler's death and pushes the courts to take a look at the cruel and unusual punishment of solitary confinement.
A man awakes to a murderous crime scene and has no recollection of the events that occurred the night before, even though he is the prime suspect.
Benson and Stabler are forced to work with a brutish cop, Nate Kendall, after an unstable rape victim bonds with him. During an intense investigation, new evidence emerges and Stabler realizes he may have convicted the wrong man for rape almost ten years.
Benson and Stabler investigate the murder of an Internet prostitute, Emily Keefe, after her body was found folded in a suitcase in a Grand Central train.