Notorious standup comic Josh Galloway performs his lewd act to a rowdy group of undergrads at TSU when he's interrupted by Renee, a rape survivor and student protesting Galloway's use of rape as a punch line. Galloway pulls her on stage and incorporates her into a gag about gang rape that the crowd loves. After the show, two jazzed fans corner Renee, spout lines from the act - and assault her.
Although she escaped without being raped, Renee contacts SVU and details everything that occurred. This convinces Benson that Galloway should be held at least partially responsible for assault, an angle Barba warns against, citing the First Amendment. The detectives interview Galloway anyway - he deflects blame, but invites them to witness his show for themselves. They attend and he doesn't disappoint - rape jokes fly, he mock-flirts with Benson and brags about the TSU "slut" he slept with last night. Benson leads the walkout on the performance - until a young woman stops them outside. Turns out she's the woman Galloway mentioned on stage, and she believes he raped her.
Carly, the victim, explains how Galloway fed her drinks after the show until she passed out in his hotel room, and then she woke up to find him having sex with her. He sent her away with a swag bag - a detail the team traces to another case where a Galloway fan cried rape, only that woman dropped the charges. Fin and Rollins investigate, discovering that he may have paid her off - but definitely gave her a swag bag for her trouble. Benson pleads with Barba to use the connection and, despite his trepidation, Barba agrees. SVU arrests Galloway, who mugs for the cameras, encouraged by the spectacle.
Barba calls Carly to the stand first and she gives a detailed account of her story to the jury. Galloway's attorney doesn't buy it, instead focusing on Carly's drunkenness and her regular attendance at the comedian's performances. But her testimony takes a real hit when Galloway posts a cellphone video from one of his TSU shows that reveals Carly flirting with Galloway and lifting up her shirt. The video goes viral and Barba demands a mistrial, a motion the judge denies. Galloway's attorney then calls Benson to the stand - and she bombs. Embarrassed and angry, Barba lays into Benson in private, accusing her of leveraging her newfound sergeant status to make a name for herself. Benson fires back, disappointed in how quickly she lost his support; they're supposed to be a team.
Back at the trial, Galloway takes the stand and bulldozes his way through Barba's line of questioning, even getting a few jurors to laugh. Renee, devastated and certain Galloway will go free, begs Benson to set him up - she refuses on multiple grounds. However, this doesn't stop Renee; she seduces Galloway away from a bar to his hotel and then tries to leave. He assaults her and tears her clothes - totally unaware that she filmed the whole thing. When Renee presents the new video to Barba, he uses it to force Galloway into a deal: the video remains confidential while Galloway registers as a sex offender.
Later, Benson's approached by Detective Lindsay from Chicago P.D. She's in town due to the recent discovery of a body that resembles an old SVU case - a rapist who cuts off the right ears of the victims he murders. As she sends Lindsay to Fin and Rollins, Benson adds that Lindsay's sergeant put in a good word for her. Lindsay scoffs, surprised that Voight would say such a thing. It's true though, and Lindsay leaves with a smile on her face. Benson smiles too, reminded of another impassioned detective out to prove herself to her team.