LOS ANGELES – An actress who appears in the anti-Muslim film trailer that has been blamed for riots in the Middle East is suing the filmmaker for fraud and slander, and is asking a judge to order YouTube to take down the clip.
Cindy Lee Garcia's lawsuit filed Wednesday in Los Angeles claims the actress was duped by Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, the man behind "Innocence of Muslims" who has been forced into hiding since its 14-minute trailer rose to prominence last week. She was unaware of the film's anti-Muslim content and the pages of the script she received had no mention of the prophet Muhammad, religion or sexual content, according to her complaint.
The lawsuit states Garcia responded to an ad and thought she was appearing in an ancient Egyptian adventure film called "Desert Warriors." Dialogue in the amateurish film was later dubbed to include anti-Islamic messages and to portray Muhammad as a fraud, a womanizer and a child molester, and it was also translated into Arabic.
"The film is vile and reprehensible," Garcia's attorney, M. Cris Armenta, wrote in the document. Her client has received death threats since the film's trailer began drawing attention, and she is no longer able to care for her grandchildren, the lawsuit states.
"This lawsuit is not an attack on the First Amendment nor on the right of Americans to say what they think, but does request that the offending content be removed from the Internet," the complaint states. Garcia's attorneys plan to seek an injunction against the film Thursday in a Los Angeles court.
YouTube has refused Garcia's requests to remove the film, according to the lawsuit. The complaint contends that keeping it online violates her right of publicity, invades her privacy rights and the post-filming dialogue changes cast her in a false light. "(Garcia) had a legally protected interest in her privacy and the right to be free from having hateful words put in her mouth or being depicted as a bigot," the lawsuit states.
YouTube said it is reviewing the complaint and its lawyers will be in court on Thursday. The site is owned by search giant Google and has blocked users in Saudi Arabia, Libya and Egypt from viewing the "Innocence of Muslims" trailer. It has also blocked the video from being viewed in Indonesia and India because it violates laws in those countries.
Garcia, who lives in Bakersfield, Calif., claims her association with the film has harmed her reputation and caused "shame, mortification, and hurt feelings" and will impact her ability to get future acting roles, according to the lawsuit.
A man who answered the phone at the law offices of Steven Seiden, who represents Nakoula on any criminal repercussions he may face, declined comment. He said Seiden does not represent Nakoula, who is on probation for a bank fraud case in which he opened 600 fraudulent credit accounts, in civil matters.
According to the terms of his probation, Nakoula was allowed to only access websites with the permission of probation officials and for work purposes. It is unclear who uploaded the film to the site.
The lawsuit also names Sam Bacile, an alias that Nakoula gave to The Associated Press after the trailer was linked to protests that have since killed at least 30 people in seven countries, including the U.S. ambassador to Libya.