What to know about Netflix's 'Tell Them You Love Me' documentary

True crime documentary "Tell Them You Love Me" premiered on Netflix on June 14, 2024.
True crime documentary "Tell Them You Love Me" premiered on Netflix on June 14, 2024.

Netflix is no stranger to complicated documentaries but this month it released one of its most twisted yet.

True crime film "Tell Them You Love Me" joined the streaming giant's roster, telling of the controversial events between white ethics professor Anna Stubblefield and Black nonverbal man Derrick Johnson, whom she was later convicted of sexually assaulting in New Jersey.

Throughout the documentary, Director Nick August-Perna and executive producer Louis Theroux explore the roles that race, disability and power played within their dynamics and the events that unfolded. The project features interviews with Stubblefield and Johnson, as well as several of their family members with fervent opposing views on their relationship.

"It’s a film where each dramatic reveal unlocks new questions, and we wanted that unlocking to play out until the very last images," August-Perna said in a Netflix news release. "More than anything, I knew I had to get the balance and the integrity of the storylines just right, to reveal things at just the right times."

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What is 'Tell Them You Love Me' about?

"Tell Them You Love Me" chronicles the case against former Rutgers University-Newark ethics professor Anna Stubblefield, who was convicted in 2015 of sexually assaulting Derrick Johnson.

Stubblefield met Johnson, who has cerebral palsy and is nonverbal, in 2009 through his brother John Johnson. As one of Stubblefield's students, John asked her to help with Johnson's communications skills. Stubblefield was 39 and Johnson was 28 when she began helping him take a university class through the use of an LED screen to type.

The professor, who was married at the time, said the two developed a consensual sexual relationship after falling in love. But Johnson’s mother, Daisy Johnson, said his condition prevented her son from being able to engage in physical or emotional intimacy and accused Stubblefield of manipulating his hands through the keyboard.

Where is Anna Stubblefield now?

Stubblefield was convicted on two counts of first-degree aggravated sexual assault in 2015 and sentenced to 12 years in prison. By 2017, her conviction was overturned after a judge found that her trial was unfair.

After accepting a plea deal for a lesser charger, Stubblefield was released from prison, serving only two years of her initial sentence.

When she was released she worked as a restaurant server but then was let go because of the publicity surrounding her plea bargain. She now does "unspecified part-time work from home," according to the documentary.

The documentary concludes by revealing Derrick Johnson lives with his mother at their Irvington, New Jersey, home. The film portrays him as healthy, safe and loved.

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: What to know about Netflix's 'Tell Them You Love Me' documentary