UPDATED, 4:05 PM: Jerry Harris, who starred in Netflix’s Emmy-winning docuseries Cheer, was sentenced today to 12 years in federal prison for soliciting sex with minors and other sex-related crimes. He had pleaded guilty in February after taking a plea deal with prosecutors. Read details of the case below.
PREVIOUSLY, February 10: Jerry Harris, best known for starring in Netflix’s Emmy-winning docuseries Cheer, pleaded guilty Thursday in Chicago to two sex crimes charges involving minors after reaching a deal with prosecutors.
Harris was originally arrested and charged in September 2020 with one count of producing child pornography. After an FBI investigation, federal charges of child sexual exploitation were added involving incidents with minors in Texas, Florida and his home state of Illinois.
He had originally pleaded not guilty to the seven charges.
TMZ reported that Harris pleaded guilty today to charges of receiving child porn using interstate commerce, and traveling across state lines with intent to illicit sexual conduct with a minor. In exchange, the other five charges would be dropped.
According to the New York Times, Harris said today via a statement from his lawyers at a virtual hearing that “he wishes to take responsibility for his actions and publicly convey his remorse for the harm he has caused the victims in this case.” He also said that he was “himself exploited, manipulated, and sexually abused as a child within the Cheer Community.”
Harris, 22, has remained jailed in Chicago, and sentencing has been set for June 28. The plea agreement suggested sentencing guidelines could go as high as 50 years in prison.
Harris is also the plaintiff in a civil lawsuit filed by the family of underage Texas twins that claims the Cheer subject befriended the boys in 2018 when they were 13 years old and requested them to send explicit photos. The lawsuit, in which the boys seek $1 million in damages, also stated that Harris solicited one of the brothers for oral sex.
The FBI launched its investigation after the boys’ mother filed a report in August. The victims’ mother also filed complaints of Harris’ misconduct to the Fort Worth Police Department and a number of cheer organizations including U.S. All Star Federation and Cheer Athletics Inc.
Harris was prominently featured in Cheer, which followed the competitive cheerleading team at Texas’ Navarro College. The docuseries, which won an Emmy just 24 hours after Harris was arrested back in September 2020, premiered its Season 2 last month.
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