(Bloomberg) -- Netflix Inc. asked a federal judge to stop a Texas district attorney from prosecuting it on four child-pornography charges over its distribution of the controversial French film “Cuties.”
Netflix was indicted Wednesday in Tyler County, the day before the company planned to defend itself at a pretrial hearing in state court against an October 2020 lewdness charge tied to the same film.
The streaming giant accused Tyler County District Attorney Lucas Babin of gamesmanship in dropping the earlier charge -- which was filed under a state law that a different judge declared unconstitutional in an unrelated case -- and swapping in four new charges filed under a stricter pornography statute.
“Without the court’s intervention, Netflix will suffer irreparable harm by being forced to continue playing Babin’s game in state court and defending itself against even more baseless charges,” the company’s attorneys said in a civil complaint filed Thursday in federal court in Lufkin, Texas.
A hearing on Netflix’s request for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction against Babin and the criminal charges is set for Friday in Beaumont federal court.
Netflix’s lawyers described “Cuties” as a “coming-of-age tale and social commentary about the negative influence of social media and the hyper-sexualization of young girls.” The award-winning film had sparked considerable debate over its depiction of a dance troupe of preteen girls who exploit themselves by dressing and dancing suggestively to win competitions and attract older boys.
The film was nominated for the Grand Jury prize in world cinema at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival.
The case is Netflix Inc. v. Babin, 9:22-31, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Texas (Lufkin).
©2022 Bloomberg L.P.