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Kids are the price you pay for being with a man who'll just leave you anyway.
~ Grace Rinato's cynical view on her own children.

Grace Rinato is the main antagonist of the Law & Order: Special Victims Unit episode "Denial". She is an abusive, neglectful mother who murders two of her own children and tries to frame her remaining daughter.

She was portrayed by Mary Steenburgen.


Early life

Grace has been angry, narcissistic, and cruel ever since her father walked out on her mother, Rose, when she was a child, she blames Rose for "driving him away" and has been punishing her, and everyone else in her life, ever since. She also began acting out as a teenager by sleeping with several random men, eventually getting pregnant. She gave birth to a son, Anthony, even though she had no real interest in being a parent, and left him with Rose while she went out drinking and sleeping around. Rose finally put her foot down and made her take care of the child with disastrous results, and when Anthony began crying, Grace flew into a rage and smothered him to death with a blanket. His death was blamed on SIDS, and Rose convinced herself her daughter was innocent, even though she knew deep down what had really happened.

Grace later had a daughter, Claire, and Rose took her in to protect her from her mother. When Claire was thirteen, Grace had another baby, Lisa, whom Claire raised while Grace was either at work or out drinking and having sex with random men. When Lisa was two, Grace flew into a rage when she started crying and kicked her to death. She hid the body in a suitcase in the closet, but Claire figured out what really happened, causing her to become traumatized that she began using heroin to numb the pain and guilt she felt over not being able to save her sister.


After Claire is raped at a party while high, Special Victims Unit detectives Olivia Benson and Elliot Stabler find a human finger bone in her pocket. Claire tells Detective Tutuola that the finger belongs to her dead sister, and that Grace murdered her. Grace tells Benson and Stabler that Claire is lying, but is later caught throwing Lisa's remains in a dumpster and arrested. Grace claims that Claire murdered Lisa, and that she covered up the crime to protect her.

Benson and Stabler learn of Anthony's death and have his body exhumed, finding similar injuries to those Lisa suffered. They confront Rose with the truth, but she refuses to believe it until she talked with Claire and finally accepts who and what her daughter is. She tells the detectives and Assistant District Attorney Alexandra Cabot what Grace did to Anthony. Grace insists that Claire killed her until Cabot confronts her with irrefutable DNA evidence proving her guilt. Grace then turns on Rose, blaming her for "forcing" her to have children that she didn't want. Rose is unmoved, however, and says that she should have known she would kill again.

Grace is sent to prison for life for murdering Anthony and Lisa, while Rose is imprisoned for obstruction of justice. Claire, meanwhile, goes into rehab, finally ready to forgive herself and move on with her life.

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