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Jerry Harris, former “Cheer” star, sentenced to 12 years for sex crimes

by Ezekiel J. Walker
Jerry Harris, former "Cheer" star, sentenced to 12 years for sex crimes
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Former Netflix “Cheer” star Jerry Harris has been sentenced to 12 years in federal prison on Wednesday after pleading guilty to multiple sex crimes involving minors. Harris will also be court-supervised upon his release for eight years.

After Season 1 of Cheer aired in January 2020, Harris was seen as an emerging Hollywood star, appearing on talk shows and attending the Oscars to interview celebrities as a guest of Ellen DeGeneres.

Harris’ lawyers argue his lived trauma contributed to his assault on others.

Harris attorney’s argued for a six-year prison term. They cited Harris’s troubled childhood, stating he had a “warped” view of relationships as a result of him being sexually assaulted at age 13.

Harris pleaded guilty in February to a child pornography charge after persuading a minor to send him sexually explicit photographs in exchange for money, per CNN. Harris also pled guilty to a charge of traveling for illicit sex with minors, stemming from a trip he took to Florida for the purpose of “engaging in illicit sexual conduct” with a 15-year-old, The Associated Press reports.

A plea agreement led prosecutors to drop five other federal counts brought against Harris.

Jerry Harris admits wrongdoing in court.

At his sentencing hearing, Harris apologized to his victims, saying his actions were “wrong and selfish,” according to a statement released by his lawyer.

“I do not deserve forgiveness, but I do pray that one day you might find it in your hearts,” Harris added.

Harris, 22, has been held in a federal detention facility without bond since he was arrested in September 2020.

However, following a lengthy FBI investigation, he was arrested in September 2020 and charged with one count of producing child pornography.

Harris was once known for his pep, now is a “persistent predator.”

“This was not just a handful of times that this happened,”a mother of child accusers told CBS Chicago. “He was an incredibly persistent predator that forced himself into the center of my sons’ lives for over a year.”

The federal complaint alleged Jerry Harris contacted a minor in 2018 and requested “face” and “booty” pictures, even after the minor told him he was 13 years old. In the complaint, the minor said he sent Harris dozens of photos over more than a year. The minor also told investigators that Harris cornered him in a bathroom at a cheerleading competition and tried to solicit him for oral sex.

The minor refused, and Harris allegedly made the same request at another competition three months later. According to the complaint, Harris blocked the minor on Snapchat in February 2020, one month after “Cheer” was released on Netflix, and sent him a message saying, “I’m sorry for what I’ve done in the past. I don’t think it’s a good idea that we be friends on snap.”

A second minor, who is the first minor’s twin, also accused Harris of requesting nude photos.

In the complaint, investigators said Harris admitted to multiple allegations, including asking for nude photos, trying to solicit oral sex at cheerleading events and receiving child pornography from 10 to 15 other children he knew were underage.

Per CBS News, in December 2020, Harris was indicted on seven additional counts that alleged he solicited sex from minors at cheerleading competitions and worked to get young boys to send him photographs and videos.

Sarah Klein, a lawyer representing the victims, said that Harris’ sentence “reflects the severity of his crimes and the lifetime of pain his victims will suffer.”

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