Jerry Harris: Star of hit Netflix show Cheer jailed for 12 years over child sex abuse charges

Cheer star Jerry Harris has been jailed for 12 years over child sex abuse charges.

Speaking in court as he was sentenced, the 22-year-old apologized to his victims and said he was “not an evil person” and was still “learning who I am”.

Prosecutors had called for a lengthy sentence, saying that Harris’ status as one of the stars of the first series of hit Netflix show Cheer had enabled him to “persuade and entice” his young victims to engage in sexual conduct.

Judge Manish S Shah told the social media star and cheerleading champion to consider the sentence an “expression of the seriousness of your crimes, tempered with some hope that all is not lost for you or for your victims, and that in the future some healing can occur”.

Harris, who has remained in custody since his arrest in September 2020, appeared in court for the sentencing, which lasted around seven hours.

Addressing his victims before he was jailed, Harris said: “I am deeply sorry for all the trauma my abuse has caused you.

“I pray deep down that your suffering comes to an end.”

He added: “I’m not an evil person. I’m still learning who I am and what my purpose is.”

Notable figures listed as authors of character reference letters used by his defense included other stars of Cheer such as Navarro college head coach Monica Aldama, teammate Morgan Simianer, and the parents of Harris’ fellow cheerleader, Gabi Butler.

Harris, 22, previously pleaded guilty to one count of traveling with the attempt to engage in illicit sexual conduct and one count of receiving child pornography.

His pleas were entered during a hearing in a Chicago court in February.

Harris pleaded guilty to two of seven counts against him including persuading a 17-year-old to send him sexually explicit photographs for money.

The other account stemmed from a trip he took to Florida for the purpose of “engaging in illicit sexual conduct” with a 15-year-old.

US prosecutors agreed to drop the remaining five counts under a plea agreement.

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A US child pornography charge carries a sentence ranging from five to 20 years and the second charge carries a maximum sentence of 30 years.

Harris, from the Chicago suburb of Naperville, was the breakout star of Cheer, a series following a cheerleading team from Navarro College in Corsicana, Texas, as it sought a national title.

He was arrested in September 2020 on a charge of production of child pornography.

Prosecutors alleged at the time that he requested videos and images from two 14-year-old brothers.

According to a complaint, federal prosecutors said that Harris admitted to repeatedly asking a minor teen for pornographic videos and images between December 2018 and March 2020.

In December 2020 he was indicted on more charges alleging misconduct in Illinois, Florida and Texas.

According to the indictment, Harris allegedly solicited sex from minors at cheerleading competitions and convinced teenage boys to send him obscene photographs and videos of themselves.

Harris later admitted to FBI agents to asking a teenage boy to send him photographs of himself, and to requesting child pornography on Snapchat from at least 10 to 15 others he knew to be minors, according to the indictment.

the second series of Cheer addresses the investigation into Harrisand dedicates an entire episode to the incidents, titled “Jerry”.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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