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Netflix viewers describe new true crime documentary as ‘one of the most unsettling’ docs they’ve ever watched

Netflix viewers describe new true crime documentary as ‘one of the most unsettling’ docs they’ve ever watched

People are finding the professor's crime utterly 'disturbing.'

Warning: This article contains discussions of sexual assault some may find distressing.

Netflix is filled with disturbing documentaries and if you follow true crime, this next one might be for you.

However, if not, stop reading now as it's been called 'one of the most unsettling documentaries' ever seen on Netflix.

The streaming giant released a new true crime documentary that was exclusively produced by no other than Louis Theroux.

But unlike his typical exploration of unusual and taboo subcultures, this doc covers a case that many are struggling to sit through.

Directed by The Swell Season’s Nick August-Perna, 'Tell Them You Love Me' follows the case of Anna Stubblefield, a former philosophy professor whose relationship led to a criminal conviction.

Matt Popovich/Unsplash
Matt Popovich/Unsplash

The story began in 2009, when Stubblefield, then 41, met Derrick Johnson, then 30, a non-verbal man with cerebral palsy, through his brother, John Johnson.

John was enrolled on one of Stubblefield’s courses at Rutgers University in Newark, New Jersey and was approached by his professor about his brother’s condition.

Both of Stubblefield's parents held Ph.Ds in special education and had extensive experience working with people with disabilities, according to a 2015 article in The Times.

Seemingly following in their footsteps, the professor offered to help Derrick with his communication skills and soon after, he began attending a class at the university.

The educator, who was married at the time, claims that her interactions with Derrick were part of a consensual sexual relationship.

However, his mother, Daisy Johnson, stated that her son was incapable of engaging in physical or emotional intimacy.

Netflix described the documentary as 'scandalous', exploring 'the controversial relationship between a professor and a nonverbal man that leads to a trial over race, disability and power.'


Initially pleading not guilty to charges, Stubblefield was later convicted of aggravated sexual assault in 2016 and sentenced to 12 years in prison.

Then, in 2017, an appeals court overturned her conviction and called for a retrial.

A year later, the female professor pleaded guilty to ‘third-degree aggravated criminal sexual contact’, but maintained in the Theroux documentary that she was ‘not guilty of a crime’.

Given the sensitive subject matter and the horror of the crime, viewers have been sharing their opinions after watching Tell Them You Love Me.

'I found it really disturbing. For obvious reasons and the way this woman presents herself,' one user wrote.

An X user added: 'Tell Them You Love Me might be one of the most unsettling documentaries I’ve ever watched on Netflix.'

Some users see both sides of the story, writing: 'Just watched Tell Them You Love Me, and I really want to have a conversation about it.

'I’m so conflicted because I can see both ends of the spectrum.'

Featured Image Credit: Netflix