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Jerry Harris pleaded guilty on Thursday to federal charges of receiving child sexual abuse images and soliciting sex from minors, The Guardian reported. These charges could land him in prison for decades.
Harris got famous as part of the Netflix documentary “Cheer,” which took a deep dive into the ups and downs of Navarro College’s competitive cheer squad as they tried to win a national title. Harris became one of the most beloved cheerleaders in the cast thanks to his extremely enthusiastic, supportive personality and willingness to support other members of the squad with effusive “mat talk.” It was hard not to root for Jerry and he quickly attracted a ton of fans. The world was so dazzled by Harris’ charm that he was tapped to interview celebrities on the red carpet at the Academy Awards for “The Ellen DeGeneres Show.”
But not long after the Netflix series started becoming very popular, rumors of sexual misconduct between Harris and underage boys began circulating. Eventually, those allegations led to charges being filed against the 22-year-old “Cheer” star.
A U.S. attorney’s office spokesperson said that Harris pleaded guilty to one count of traveling with the intent to engage in illicit sexual conduct and one count of receiving child abuse images during a change of plea hearing in federal court this week.
Harris pleaded guilty to two of seven felony counts against him, The Guardian reported. One was for persuading a 17-year-old to send him sexually explicit photographs for money and the other was related to a trip he took to Florida for the purpose of “engaging in illicit sexual conduct” with a 15-year-old. Prosecutors had agreed to drop the remaining five counts as part of a plea agreement.
The child abuse image charge could result in a sentence ranging from five to 20 years, and the illicit sexual conduct charge has a maximum sentence of 30 years. Harris is scheduled to be sentenced on June 28 and will remain in a federal detention facility until that date.
Harris was arrested in September 2020 on a charge of production of child abuse imagery. Prosecutors alleged at the time that he solicited videos and images from two 14-year-old brothers. Federal prosecutors said that Harris admitted to asking a minor teen for videos and images on multiple occasions between December 2018 and March 2020.
In December 2020, the Netflix star was indicted on more charges from incidents in Illinois, Florida, and Texas. Harris allegedly solicited sex from minors at cheerleading competitions and convinced teenage boys to send him sexually explicit photographs and videos of themselves.
Harris also admitted to requesting images on Snapchat from between 10 and 15 boys who he knew were minors, the indictment said.
Harris was part of “Cheer” season 2, which was filmed prior to charges being filed against the Navarro cheerleader. The series addressed the situation during the season 2 episode “Jerry.” Collider reported that documentary-makers reached out to Harris to set up an interview while he was in prison, but he turned them down.
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