“Innocence of Muslims” actress suing producer for fraud

Cindy Lee Garcia filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles Wednesday afternoon that also alleges YouTube and its parent company, Google, are causing Garcia "irreparable harm." 


Chase Hoffberger


Published Sep 20, 2012   Updated Jun 2, 2021, 10:49 am CDT

An actress in Innocence of Muslims, the controversial anti-Islam film that’s sparked massive rioting across the Middle East and put YouTube under fire, is suing the film’s producer Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, claiming herself a victim of fraud, invasion of privacy, and misappropriation of her likeness.

Cindy Lee Garcia, 55, filed suit in Los Angeles Wednesday afternoon in a 17-page complaint that also indicts YouTube and its parent company Google—which has refused to take the video off the site despite the chaos it’s likely caused—for causing Garcia “irreparable harm.” The actress claimed Wednesday that she’s received death threats for her involvement in the film.

In a statement offered Wednesday, Garcia’s attorney M. Cris Armenta stated that the lawsuit is not designed as an attack on the First Amendment or the right of Americans to say what they think. Rather, it was filed because Garcia believes that she’s been inaccurately portrayed.

“Ms. Garcia in no way consented to the use of her performance, image, or likeness in such an offensive and vile film,” Armenta said.

According to a New York Daily News report, Garcia believed the movie was supposed to be an “adventure film” called Desert Warrior, one that never mentioned the Prophet Muhammad in the script.

It was only after Nakoula had finished shooting the film, Garcia stated, that he overdubbed her lines with anti-Islamic sentiments.

Garcia is asking for unspecified compensatory and punitive damages from Nakoula, who recently went into hiding in the wake of the uproar against his film.

“Ms. Garcia has lost her job, her privacy, and has suffered extreme distress over Nakoula’s acts,” the lawsuit states.

Garcia is not the only individual to grow unhappy with their involvement in the film. Actor Dan Sutter told the New York Daily News he was duped by a pledge for a less controversial film. He plans to sue Nakoula as well.

Innocence of Muslims has caused a ripple effect of YouTube shutdowns throughout the Middle East. Sudan blocked access to the video-sharing site this morning, following a series of nations that includes Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya, Egypt, India, Indonesia, and Malaysia.

UPDATE: A California judge has denied Garcia’s request for a temporary restraining order against the film, ruling that her case didn’t meet the minimum requirement to show “a likelihood to prevail on the merits.”

Photo via Cindy Lee Garcia/Facebook

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*First Published: Sep 20, 2012, 11:41 am CDT