Netflix’s Cheer star Jerry Harris jailed for 12 years for child sex abuse
Jerry Harris, former star of Netflix’s Cheer, has been sentenced to 12 years to prison for soliciting sex and obscene photos and videos from minors.
Warning – child sexual abuse.
Harris was arrested in September 2020 for producing child pornography, and in February 2022 pleaded guilty to two of the seven counts against him under a plea agreement.
The first count relates to Harris travelling to Florida for the purpose of engaging in “illicit sexual conduct” with a 15-year-old, and the second relates to Harris pressuring a 17-year-old to send him sexual images in exchange for money.
On Wednesday (6 July) at a federal court in Chicago, judge Manish S Shah sentenced Harris to 12 years in jail. Prosecutors at the Chicago hearing called for a lengthy sentence due to Harris using his celebrity status to lure his young victims.
Harris’ attorneys wanted a shorter sentence, arguing that Harris’ views of sex were warped by abuse he’d suffered as a child.
According to USA Today, judge Shah also gave Harris eight years of supervised release following his term in prison.
The judge told Harris that the sentence is 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”.
In a statement, per USA Today, Harris said: “All I can do going forward is to try to do better and be a better person. I do not deserve forgiveness, but I do pray that one day you might find it in your hearts.”
The disgraced cheerleader’s co-stars, coach Monica Aldama, teammate Morgan Simianer and the parents of Harris’ fellow cheerleader, Gabi Butler, were character witnesses for him.
Although the Cheer star was arrested in 2020, the FBI had been investigating him since 2019, per TMZ. Harris has been in custody at a federal detention facility since his arrest.
Prosecutors alleged at the time that he solicited videos and images from two 14-year-old brothers.
Harris admitted that he repeatedly asked underage teenagers for obscene videos and images via Snapchat between December 2018 and March 2020. Harris admitted that he also asked at least 10 to 15 others who he knew were minors.
In December 2020, Harris was accused of more sexual misconduct in Illinois, Florida and Texas.
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Harris used his popularity as the breakout star of Cheer to coerce minors at cheerleading competitions into having sex with him and to send him obscene photos of themselves.
The allegations against Harris were addressed on the second season of Cheer in an episode titled “Jerry”.
In the episode the two brothers, Sam and Charlie, detailed their horrific sexual abuse at the hands of Harris. They claimed that he solicited explicit photos and sex when he was 19.
“He asked me how old I was, and I told him that I was 13,” Charlie said. “And then after that, right off the bat, he asked me ‘can I have butt pics?’ or ‘can you send butt pics?’
“I was willing to do that and was kind of blindsided by his notoriety at that time.”