Federal child pornography case: Jerry Harris pleads guilty

The former star of Netflix's "Cheer," Jerry Harris pleaded guilty to one count each of child pornography receiving and traveling with the intent of engaging in illicit sexual conduct. This was confirmed by the U.S. Attorney's Office to CBS Chicago. Since September 2020, when he was detained, the 22-year old has been in federal detention without bond.

Federal child pornography case: Jerry Harris pleads guilty

Harris pleaded guilty in two cases: one involving persuading a teenager to send him explicit photos for money, and another relating to a Florida trip he took with the intention of engaging in "illicit sexual conduct." According to the Associated Press, The remaining five federal charges against Harris were dropped by prosecutors after Harris entered into a plea agreement.

"We are grateful that both the U.S. attorney and the FBI investigated the case, located additional victims, and took action," victim's attorney Sarah Klein stated in a statement to CBS News. "Now Jerry Harris' guilt is established. Kristen, the mother of our clients, was the first to report Harris to the FBI. She provided evidence that Harris had manipulated, sexual harassed, and exploited her sons.

Klein also requested that authorities open an investigation into U.S. All Star Federation and Varsity Spirit to determine if Harris could have been prevented.

He was born Jeremiah Harris. He rose to fame after he and his team were featured in Emmy-winning docuseries "Cheer," that follows the lives of the Navarro cheerleaders. Harris was even invited to the Academy Awards as a personality on "The Ellen DeGeneres show."

After a long FBI investigation, he was eventually arrested and charged with producing child pornography.

Federal complaint alleges Harris asked for "face" photos and "booty" images from a minor in 2018. This was despite the fact that Harris claimed he was only 13 years old. The minor claimed that he sent Harris numerous photos over the course of a year. Investigators were also informed by the minor that Harris had cornered him at a cheerleading competition's bathroom and attempted to offer him oral sex.

Harris requested the minor to refuse, even though he had made the request three months earlier at another competition. Harris allegedly blocked the minor from Snapchat in February 2020, one month after Cheer was released on Netflix. He sent him a message apologizing for his past actions and said, "I'm sorry." It's not a good idea for us to be friends on snap.

Harris was also accused by a second minor and his twin Minor 1 of asking for nude photos.

Investigators claimed Harris confessed to several allegations in the complaint. He asked for nude photos and tried to solicit oral sex at cheerleading events. Harris also received child pornography from 10-15 other children he knew to be underage.

In December 2020 Harris was with seven additional charges. These counts allege that Harris solicited sex from minor cheerleading competitors and worked to get young boys send him photos and videos.

The two minors named in the federal complaint for the second season of "Cheer" revealed themselves to be twin cheerleaders Charlie, and Sam. The twins said they were hesitant to speak up against Harris due to his popularity. However, Charlie, identified as Minor 1, stated that he was "lost it" after seeing Joe Biden speak in June 2020 and realized he had to do something.

Charlie stated, "I want the world to see, give people a name to, when they think about Jerry Harris, what it was he did."

Kristen, Charlie's mother, said that "This wasn't just a few times that this happened." He was a persistent predator who stayed in the middle of my son's life for more than a year.

Harris' next hearing will be held on June 28th, where a judge is expected to announce his sentence. Harris is now facing a maximum sentence in prison of 50 years.

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