With news spreading about a Texas grand jury indicting Netflix for allegedly promoting “lewd visual material” of a child in the French-language movie, Cuties, the district attorney of Tyler County is doubling down on the criminal charge.
A summons was served on Netflix’s corporate headquarters by Texas Rangers on Oct. 1. Conviction on the felony charge requires a mandatory jail sentence, according to Texas state law.
The movie, about an 11-year-old girl from Senegal who joins a dance troupe to escape an overbearing mother, has generated a firestorm of controversy for the SVOD pioneer regarding the film’s initial marketing and content that critics say overtly sexualizes underage girls.
Tyler County DA Lucas Babin Oct. 6 issued a press release stating that his job is to keep communities in the county safe. Babin said that in his office it is not uncommon to confront cases involving underage children, adding that after watching Cuties, he knew there was “probable cause” to pursue the matter under Section 43.262 of the Texas Penal Code.
“The legislators of this state believe promoting certain lewd material of children has destructive consequences,” Babin said. “If such material is promoted on a grand scale, isn’t the need to prosecute more, not less?”
In a prior statement, Netflix, which acquired streaming rights to the award-winning Cuties at the Sundance Film Festival, said the film is a social commentary against the sexualization of young children — a point of view shared by the film’s director Maïmouna Doucoure.
“This charge is without merit and we stand by the film,” said the streamer.
The Tyler County DA Office declined further comment on the case, citing rules about making statements on pending criminal prosecutions and the defendants involved.
“All defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty,” concluded the DA’s statement.
Netflix shares were up slightly in early Nov. 7 trading.