By Peter McLaren-Kennedy • 11 February 2022 • 8:24
One of the stars in the Netflix documentary series Cheer, Jerry Harris, admits child sex crimes as he pleads guilty in court to possession of child pornography and engaging in illicit sexual conduct.
Harris, 22, is one of the leading characters in the Netflix Emmy-award winning docu-series Cheer, which they describe as “This gripping docuseries follows the ups and downs of Navarro College’s competitive cheer squad as they work to win a coveted national title.”
Harris, who has been held in pre-trial detention since his arrest in Chicago in 2020, made the guilty plea as part of a deal to avoid prosecution for five other federal charges against him.
Harris’ fame saw him win an invitation to the Academy Awards as a guest of TV host Ellen DeGeneres, where he interviewed celebrities on the red carpet.
Appearing in court he pleaded guilty to offering to pay a 17-year-old to send him sexually explicit photos, and travelling to Florida for the purpose of “engaging in illicit sexual conduct” with a 15-year-old.
The investigation was sparked by a complaint from a Texas mother, whose two sons were abused by Harris.
“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,” the mother said in a news release.
“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.”
A lawyer for his victims called for an investigation of United States All Star Federation, Varsity Spirit and Cheer Athletics to determine if any employees “could have stopped Harris’ abuse and failed to do so”.
In the latest season of Cheer, released last month, twin boys identified as Harris’ victims describe their hesitancy to speak out.
“I told him that I was 13, and then after that – right off the bat – he asked me, ‘Can I have butt pics?’ or ‘Can you send butt pics?'” one of the boys says.
One of the boys said that he decided to speak out after watching a campaign chat that then-presidential candidate Joe Biden had with Harris in 2020.
“I want to show to the world, give people a face to, when they think of Jerry Harris, what he did,” the boy said.
Harris admitted to exchanging lewd pictures with 10-15 children that he knew to be underage in at least three different states according to prosecutors.
Jerry Harris, who admits the child sex crimes is due to be sentenced on June 28 with the child pornography charges carrying a minimum sentence of five years in prison and the illicit sexual conduct charge a maximum sentence of 30 years.
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Originally from South Africa, Peter is based on the Costa Blanca and is a web reporter for the Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news.
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