Former ‘Cheer’ star pleads guilty in child pornography case
CHICAGO (AP) — Jerry Harris, former star of the Netflix documentary series “Cheer,” pleaded guilty Thursday to federal charges of receiving child pornography and soliciting sex from minors that could keep him in prison for decades.
At a plea change hearing in federal court in Chicago, Harris pleaded guilty to one count of traveling with intent to engage in illicit sexual conduct and one count of receiving child pornography, a spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.
Harris, 22, pleaded guilty to two of the seven counts against him, one of persuading a 17-year-old to send him sexually explicit photographs for money and the other stemming from a trip he took to Florida for the purpose of “engaging in illicit sexual behavior” with a 15-year-old. Prosecutors have agreed to drop the remaining five counts as part of a settlement agreement. advocacy.
The child pornography charge carries a sentence of five to 20 years and the second charge carries a maximum sentence of 30 years. Harris is due to be sentenced on June 28. He is still being held in a federal detention center.
Harris, who comes from the Chicago suburb of Naperville, was arrested in September 2020 on a charge of producing child pornography. Prosecutors alleged at the time that he solicited videos and images from two 14-year-old brothers.
According to a complaint, federal prosecutors said Harris admitted to repeatedly asking an underage teenager for pornographic videos and images between December 2018 and March 2020.
Then in December of that year, he was charged with several counts alleging wrongdoing in Illinois, Florida and Texas. According to the indictment, Harris allegedly solicited sex from minors at cheerleading competitions and convinced teenagers to send him obscene photographs and videos of themselves.
Harris admitted to FBI agents asking a teenager to send him lewd photos of himself and asking for child pornography on Snapchat from at least 10 to 15 others he knew were minors, according to the act. of accusation.
“Cheer” was a huge hit when it was released in January 2020, and Harris has become hugely popular for his upbeat attitude and encouraging “mat talk.” Harris even interviewed celebrities on the Oscars red carpet for “The Ellen DeGeneres Show.”
The docuseries follows Navarro College’s competitive cheerleading team in Corsicana, Texas.