Netflix asks federal court to drop Tyler County lawsuit over ‘Cuties’ film

(AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)
Published: Mar. 8, 2022 at 5:30 PM CST
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NACOGDOCHES, Texas (KTRE) - Lawyers for Netflix are seeking injunctive relief from the Tyler County district attorney’s lawsuit against the 2020 film Cuties.

On Sunday it was reported that a Tyler County grand jury has indicted Netflix Inc. over the film, charging the California-based streaming service with “promotion of lewd visual material depicting child.

According to the Tyler County document, the indictment was filed with the district clerk’s office on Sept. 23.

The text of the indictment states that Netflix knowingly promotes “visual material which depicts the lewd exhibition of the genitals or pubic area of a clothed or partially clothed child who was younger than 18 years of age at the time the visual material was created, which appeals to the prurient interest in sex and has no serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value … "

However, lawyers for Netflix argue that the lawsuit brought by Tyler County District Attorney Lucas Babin is an attack on Netflix’s Constitutional rights and therefore has no ground for standing.

“As Babin is well-aware, Cuties violates no laws: it contains nothing obscene, it contains no scenes of children engaged in ‘sexual conduct,’ it contains no ‘lewd depictions of minors.’ Indeed, other prosecutors in Texas have not only refused to take up for his ill-advised indictment(s), they have also conceded that Cuties is not criminal but has ‘serious political, literary, and artistic value,’” the filing stated. “But this one prosecutor—out of all the prosecutors in America— has indicted Netflix not just once but five times. Each indictment violates the United States Constitution and comes in retaliation against Netflix’s exercising its First Amendment rights to free speech and to petition the government for redress. Enough is enough.”

According to a synopsis on the Netflix website, Cuties was released in 2020, and it is rated “TV-MA.”

“Eleven-year-old Amy starts to rebel against her conservative family’s traditions when she becomes fascinated with a free-spirited dance crew,” the Netflix synopsis states. The filing additionally describes the film as “a coming-of-age tale and social commentary about the negative influence of social media and the hypersexualization of young girls.”

The filing further describes Babin’s suit as “retaliatory.”

“Babin purports to have watched Cuties. He therefore knows the character and content of the film. As Tyler County’s lead criminal lawyer, Babin should therefore know that he has no legal or factual basis for any of his five indictments. And Babin has all but admitted that he brought his newly-filed indictments in retaliation for Netflix’s exercise of its statutory and constitutional right to challenge the original indictment through a pretrial writ of habeas corpus. Babin’s conduct makes clear that there will be no end to Babin’s abuse of his prosecutorial power without intervention by this court. Netflix thus files this complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and seeks a temporary restraining order and preliminary and permanent injunctive relief to end Babin’s unlawful and unconstitutional campaign,” the filing stated.

A hearing regarding this filing for injunctive relief has yet to be scheduled.


+ East Texas grand jury indicts Netflix for controversial ‘Cuties’ movie

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