Woodville, TX – A Tyler County grand jury returned an indictment against Netflix for “knowingly” promoting lewd material with children in their advertisements for the controversial French film “Cuties.”
Tyler County Criminal District Attorney Lucas Babin announced the charges in a press release that said Netflix Inc. had been indicted on Sept. 23 “for promotion of lewd material depicting a child.”
Texas State Representative Matt Schaefer tweeted out a copy of the announcement on Tuesday, NBC News reported.
Babin’s press release went on to explain that in Texas, it is a felony to “knowingly promote visual material that depicts the lewd exhibition of the genitals or pubic area of a clothed or partially-clothed child, which appeals to the prurient interest in sex and has no serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value.”
Netflix began promoting “Cuties” in the United States in August and received swift backlash from outraged Americans who felt the promotional posters with revealing photos of little girls in sexy dance costumes went too far, NBC News reported.
“Cuties” depicts the coming-of-age for an 11-year-old Senegalese girl who wants to join a sexually-inappropriate dance troupe that her religious family would object to, according to FOX News.
There was a firestorm of outrage on social media from critics who said the film and its advertisements could be considered child pornography or child exploitation.
Promotional posters used by Netflix to advertise the upcoming movie in the United States featured several little girls in sexy dance costumes flaunting bare skin, NBC News reported.
Interestingly, Netflix used posters that featured pictures of the girls fully-clothed and carrying shopping bags for their ad campaign in France.
On Aug. 20, Netflix apologized for the initial promotional materials used in the United States and called the material “not OK,” NBC News reported.
However, the streaming giant defended the French movie that so many have said will attract pedophiles as a social commentary on the sexualization of young children.
“It’s an award-winning film and a powerful story about the pressure young girls face on social media and from society more generally growing up — and we’d encourage anyone who cares about these important issues to watch the movie,” Netflix said in September amidst harsh criticism.
U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and U.S. Representative Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) were two of the most vocal critics of the controversial movie and Netflix’s promotion of it, but a slew of other elected officials have gotten on board, NBC News reported.
U.S. Senator Mike Lee (R-Utah) said he had spoken to Netflix and was “unsatisfied” with their answers to his questions.
Lee called on Netflix to drop the film and said there was a “moral question” in addition legal problems with the production, NBC News reported.
“What I cannot understand, however, is how Netflix can condemn the conduct depicted in ‘Cuties,’ while celebrating the film and filmmakers who asked several underage girls to stand in front of a camera and engage in that same ‘inappropriate, shameful’ conduct for all the world to see,” the senator from Utah said in a statement.
A Texas district attorney watched the movies, agreed with the critics, and took action, FOX News reported.
— Matt Schaefer (@RepMattSchaefer) October 6, 2020
“As a district attorney, I have to sift through countless cases and make calls every day on how to keep our communities safe,” Babin’s statement began. “In our county, it is not uncommon for me to confront cases with underage victims.”
“After hearing about the movie ‘Cuties’ and watching it, I knew there was probable cause to believe it was criminal [under Texas law],” he continued.
“The legislators of this state believe promoting certain lewd material of children has destructive consequences,” Babin explained in his statement. “If such material is distributed on a grand scale, isn’t the need to prosecute more, not less?”
“A grand jury in Tyler County found probable cause for this felony, and my job is to uphold of this state and see that justice is done,” the district attorney said in the statement.
The Parents Television Council (PTC) called on President Donald Trump and the U.S. Department of Justice to intervene in September, FOX News reported.
“We are ultimately asking the President to instruct the DOJ to investigate Netflix not just for this film, but for its pattern of behavior,” PTC Program Director Melissa Henson said. “We hope to get Netflix to be more responsible and refrain from sexualizing kids for entertainment going forward.”
The company doubled-down after news of the indictment went public.
“Cuties is a social commentary against the sexualization of young children,” Netflix’s spokesperson told FOX News. “This charge is without merit and we stand by the film.”