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Sex trafficking survivor Cyntoia Brown calls out Netflix for unauthorized doc about her life

Netflix’s upcoming doc ‘Murder to Mercy’ charts Brown’s case from a life sentence as an underage prostitute to clemency. The only problem: It’s unauthorized.

Sex trafficking survivor Cyntoia Brown calls out Netflix for unauthorized doc about her life
[Photo: courtesy of Netflix]

Netflix recently released a trailer for an upcoming documentary, Murder to Mercy, detailing Cyntoia’s Brown journey from a life sentence for murder to being released last year following a flood of media attention surrounding her case.

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In 2004, Brown was a 16-year-old prostitute who shot a 43-year-old man dead in his home after he picked her up at a fast food restaurant. Brown claimed it was self-defense, but she was found guilty of first-degree murder, felony murder, and aggravated robbery, and she was sentenced to life in prison. In 2017, Brown’s case went viral when celebrities including Rihanna, LeBron James, and Kim Kardashian-West began posting her story and calling for clemency. Brown’s sentence was eventually commuted and she was released in August 2019.

It’s a story that hits so many angles: minors in sex work, victim blaming, racial biases, a skewed justice system, and a relatively happy ending. So it’s little wonder why Brown’s story would be a hot commodity for a documentary like Netflix’s.

The only problem with Murder to Mercy is that Brown never authorized it.

Brown recently took to Twitter to address Murder to Mercy, saying, “While I was still incarcerated, a producer who has old footage of me made a deal with Netflix for an unauthorized documentary, set to be released soon. My husband and I were as surprised as everyone else when we first heard the news because we did not participate in any way.”

Brown went on to say that she’s in the process of sharing her story “in the right way” and “in a way that depicts and respects the woman I am today.”

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Fast Company has reached out to Netflix for comment.

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About the author

KC covers entertainment and pop culture for Fast Company. Previously, KC was part of the Emmy Award-winning team at "Good Morning America," where he was the social media producer.

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