After all these years, the one consistent thing about Law & Order: SVU is Olivia Benson, played by Mariska Hargitay. Other than Mariska, this long-standing show has had an almost-constant revolving door of actors who have come and gone from the ensemble cast.
Over the years, fans have had to say goodbye to a number of beloved characters, from detectives and ADAs to police chiefs. One of those talented actors was Diane Neal, who played Senior ADA Casey Novak, but the reason behind her leaving was a mystery at the time of her departure.
If you’re still wondering why Casey Novak left SVU, keep scrolling to find out the real reason actor Diane Neal departed the series.
Why did Casey Novak leave 'Law & Order: SVU'?
Actor Diane Neal joined the ensemble cast of Law & Order: SVU as a series regular from Seasons 5 to 9. As Senior ADA, Casey Novak often played fast and loose with the rules of the justice department in pursuit of getting a conviction. On the show, the ADA’s reason for leaving was that Casey Novak had knowingly violated due process and as a result, was forced to stop working with the Special Victims Unit.
Casey did eventually return for a guest spot in Season 12, which turned into a recurring role in Season 13, and by the time she left the squad for good, she was the longest-serving female ADA in the history of the series.
At the time of her departure, a spokesperson for the show said, “Diane spent five years on SVU and was a tremendous addition to the SVU team. She is looking forward to new opportunities and she will be missed.”
Since her time on SVU, Diane has also appeared in other cop shows like NCIS, Blue Bloods, and Suits. In 2018, Diane announced she was running for Congress in New York but was blocked from appearing on the ballot because she wasn’t able to collect enough signatures.
Later that year, Diane's personal life took a dark turn as she went through a dramatic public split from her then-boyfriend, celebrity magician JB Benn. Diane filed a lawsuit against JB, accusing him of physically and sexually abusing her, stalking her, sabotaging her career, and even killing her dog.
In turn, JB filed a countersuit that Diane claims was only aimed at damaging her character.
Among other things, the suit claimed that Diane once told her former campaign manager, Rachael Himsel, that all of her SVU cast mates were “awful people,” except for Ice-T. Rachael said Diane told her “that everyone in the industry was awful, stupid, unkind” and that “Mariska Hargitay was a total b---h.”
Diane strongly denied the allegations telling Page Six, “There is no truth to this at all. Most of the people I’ve worked with are amazing, I love almost everyone I’ve ever worked with.”
She went on to defend her relationship with Mariska in particular, saying, “Mariska and I were not the closest, but that doesn’t mean we have any animosity towards each other, we’re still very supportive of each other. She’s a great mom, she’s great as Benson, she’s doing great charity work. I have never talked about the cast members like this, it’s salacious and untrue.”
According to the latest complaint filed by her legal team, Diane hasn’t been acting recently due to the ongoing “campaign of terror and intimidation against her” by her ex. “Diane fearing for life and her safety, and at great personal cost — has [now] been forced to live in hiding rather than pursue her professional career,” the complaint alleges.
Hopefully the talented actress will be able to resolve her personal affairs soon and return to being the great actress we’ve all seen her to be.
If you need support, call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-4673 or visit RAINN.org to chat online one-on-one with a support specialist at any time.
If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1−800−799−7233.