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Fans of real crime struggle through “hard to digest” Netflix documentary

The new Netflix release “Tell Them You Love Me” has caused a stir in the true crime community, with several viewers saying they had trouble finishing the “difficult to digest” documentary.

Tell Them You Love Me examines the horrifying true case of Anna Stubblefield, an ethics professor at Rutgers University who was arrested for having a sexual relationship with her student Derrick Johnson, a non-verbal man with cerebral palsy.

The true crime case not only sheds light on the issues of consent and disability, but also sparked a debate about the racism issues it raised.

Experts such as Dr. Howard Shane did not consider Stubblefield – a white, middle-class woman – to be a victim of sexual abuse, although they claimed that Johnson had “the mental capacity of a six- to twelve-month-old child.”

Additionally, Stubblefield herself appears in “Tell Them You Love Me,” where she is shown to live a comfortable life and hold on to her belief that she has done nothing wrong.

For this reason, the Netflix documentary was difficult for many viewers to stomach. On Reddit, one wrote: “I hate seeing this woman smiling, free and insisting she is not guilty of any crime. She is a predator and an artist.”

“She exploited a disabled black man from a low socioeconomic community (Irvington, NJ) and his family under the guise of helping. She was a philosophy professor, not a health professional.”

“I can hardly get through this documentary because I am so angry,” they added.

Another said: “I'm not looking at this through the eyes of a speech therapist. I'm looking at this through the eyes of the sister of someone who can't speak.”

“I feel really sick and it's only been 10 minutes. I just stopped to call my mom. I really can't believe that this rapist dares to say she didn't do anything wrong in the first five minutes.

“My family’s biggest fear is that some pervert will abuse my siblings.”

A third added: “I agree, it was hard to watch. I almost stopped after 15 minutes. It was hard to endure, especially because there were several people who were stuck in the delusion. It made me sick.”

Others are angry about the outcome of the trial. In 2015, Stubblefield was found guilty of sexually abusing Johnson and sentenced to 12 years in prison.

However, in 2017 the verdict was overturned on technical grounds and her sentence was reduced to the time already served. She is now free and lives a life away from the public eye.

“The fact that she only got two years in the end was a huge miscarriage of justice,” said one Reddit user.

Another said of Stubblefield's performance in “Tell Them You Love Me”: “She smiled when she talked about them being in love and being intimate.

“Like you're still smiling after all this time? After being in prison? After losing your family? You're smiling about what you did? The anger I feel again.”

Tell Them You Love Me is now streaming on Netflix. For more true crime, check out what happened to the Carter family, how to watch the Herb Baumeister documentary, and whether Ashley Madison's Sam and Nia Rader are still together.