Disgraced star of Netflix’s Cheer Jerry Harris pleads guilty to child sex crimes
Jerry Harris, who starred in the hit docuseries Cheer, has pleaded guilty to receiving child sexual abuse images and soliciting sex from minors.
Harris pleaded guilty to one count of travelling with the intent to engage in illicit sexual conduct, and one count of receiving child sexual abuse images, at a plea hearing in Chicago on Thursday (10 February).
The first charge relates to a trip to Florida which he admitted was for the purpose of engaging in “illicit sexual conduct” with a 15-year-old, and the second relates to pushing a 17-year-old to send him sexual images in exchange for money.
The child abuse image charge against Harris carries a minimum five-year sentence and a maximum of 20 years, while the illicit sexual conduct charge carries a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison.
Jerry Harris’ twin 14-year-old accusers bravely spoke out in the second series of Cheer
In September 2020, after the first Emmy-award winning series of Cheer had been released on Netflix, Harris was arrested by the FBI for charges in relation to allegedly pressuring twin 14-year-olds to send him explicit photos and videos.
In December of that year, he was also charged with four counts of sexual exploitation of children, one count of ‘receiving child pornography’, one count of enticement and one count of travel with the intent to engage in illicit sexual contact with a minor.
At the time, Harris admitted to FBI agents that he had solicited images via Snapchat from at least 10 to 15 young boys, according to the indictment.
An episode was included in the second series of Cheer which explored the fall-out after Harris’ arrest. Two of his accusers, the twin boys, shared their story on the show.
According to the BBC, the twins’ mother said in a statement reacting to Harris’ guilty pleas: “In an effort to put a stop to a serial predator and avert harm to other children, my sons took the brave step of speaking publicly about the sexual abuse they suffered at the hands of Jerry Harris.
“Harris’ admission of guilt today gives me hope that the pain and grief that my sons have suffered as a result of speaking up has not been in vain.”
The boys’ attorney Sarah Klein added: “We are grateful that the US Attorney and the FBI investigated this case, located additional victims and took action. Now, Jerry Harris’ guilt has been firmly established.”
Harris remains in jail, and will be sentenced on 28 June, 2022.
A lawyer representing Harris’ victims has also called for an investigation into the conduct of United States All Star Federation, Varsity Spirit and Cheer Athletics to determine if staff “could have stopped Harris’ abuse and failed to do so”.