Vice President Biden appears with SVU at a meeting where he talks about how if rape kits aren't tested they fail victims. He's proud that today this did not happen. He congratulates Benson, who announces they are clearing the rape kit backlog. Benson says they righted a wrong, as processing a rape kit from 16 years ago allowed them to set a convicted person who was wrongfully accused free.
The family is now close with the accused and feels bad about what happened. They go home with Shawn to celebrate his birthday
A little while later, Ashley is found violently raped and burned. Mom found her that way. The mother thinks it was Shawn.
Fin wants to get more evidence before focusing on Shawn due to what just happened.
Olivia needs to keep Fin on the case to make it look good but wants Rollins to take the lead.
Ashley is still in surgery. Olivia tries to interview the mother. She says Ashley's fiance Zach did not like Shawn. Ashley's engagement ring was missing after the rape.
Fin and Rollins go to see Shawn who doesn't want to let them in or talk without a lawyer. He went to a stirp club with a guy from the inside, Jeff Nichols. He wants to call Melanie. Fin wants an unmarked car on his block.
Jeff says that Shawn was with him, but then admits Shawn asked him to lie for him. He says Ashley was crying on Shawn's shoulder because she was upset with her fiance.
Zach is interviewed. He last saw her before she went to dinner with Shawn. Zach sent a million texts about breaking up because he didn't like that Ashley was with Shawn. He doesn't think Shawn is a saint. He was at a bar two blocks from Ashley's house. Some girl spilled red wine on his shirt so he went home to change and then back to the bar. He insists he's innocent.
Rollins has looked at Ashley's social media account and wonders if it could be one of the men following her. Zach's interview checks out. But Rollins finds a private message from Ashley to someone named Charlie, telling him to stop looking in her window.
Rollins and Carisi go to look for Charlie and a neighbor tells them to check the roof. They find a bunch of drugs and a kid running away -- and a bloody knife.
Olivia fills Melanie in on the Charlie situation. She says she thought that kid was odd. Olivia needs her to identify anything he had that might have belonged to Ashley.
Charlie is interviewed and something seems off with him. Charlie's mother and girlfriend show up and insist he should be released and didn't hurt that girl. His girlfriend claims she was with him. She has video of Charlie having sex with her. She claims that he was a witness who found the knife.
The cops show up to search Shawn's house after Charlie ID's him (even though the ID is questionable). They find Ashley's ring in the sink drain and arrest him.
Barba seems skeptical of Fin finding the ring.
Shawn hires Buchanan who claims that this is harassment and accuses Fin of planting evidence. Shawn claims he would never hurt Ashley and that he was raped in jail. He yells at Melanie not to do this. She cries.
At trial, Jeff claims that Ashley and Shawn were joking around. Then Shawn got drunk and Ashley and Melanie left. He wanted to go to her house to apologize. Buchanan objects to Barba's leading questions.
Buchanan's cross-examination shows that Jeff is speculating.
A psychiatrist claims that innocent people who are incarcerated cannot easily transition to life outside of prison, especially if they are raped. He claims people like this get violent if rejected. However, his testimony is not specific to Shawn as he didn't meet him.
Charlie comes to testify and Rollins gives Barba a heads up that Charlie isn't all the way there. Fin wants to testify and is insulted that Barba is acting like he can't be trusted because he arrested Shawn the first time.
During cross-examination Charlie admits he was smoking weed and tries to insinuate that Rollins told him to say it was Shawn. He keeps looking at Rollins and says he pointed out Shawn because he wanted Rollins to like him.
Barba goes and yells at Rollins, as does Olivia, and Carisi defends her. Barba tells Olivia they will not get a conviction on Charlie's testimony.
Fin finally testifies about finding the ring. However he says he has a grudge because Shawn killed Ashley. He is told not to do that.
Buchanan accuses Fin of framing Shawn.
Melanie tells Fin they should hesitate before thinking Shawn is guilty. They are guessing just like they did last time. Fin tells her he didn't plant the ring. She is not sure if she heard Shawn or not. She is afraid to trust herself.
Fin gives Barba the bad news, who wants to know what Fin said to her. Barba says he is going to call her as a hostile witness so that they can get justice for Ashley.
Barba gets permission to treat Melanie as hostile on the stand. Melanie says she doesn't think Shawn would kill Ashley. Barba keeps harping on the voice. Melanie points out she thought that last time and she was wrong. Barba says she blames herself for Ashley's death and that Shawn became a rapist and killer because of Melanie. Barba claims she doesn't want Shawn to have done it because then it would be her fault. Melanie starts crying. She admits she feels guilty. Barba says this means she is certain she heard Shawn's voice. She says that's correct.
Buchanan wants to plead to manslaughter. Barba refuses. He wants Murder 2, 15 years, and Benson wants a confession in court.
Shawn takes the plea. He claims to have done so freely. He apologizes to Melanie. He says e loved Ashley. She gave him hope and wasn't afraid of him. But he was drunk and told her he liked her and she laughed and he learned in prison not to let people laugh at him. He didn't want to rape her but it just happened. Melanie walks out and Olivia goes after her.
Olivia tells Melanie she's sorry. Melanie says at least she knows he did it this time.
Fin doesn't feel like talking. Barba is glad justice was served even if it's ugly.