Ex-'Cheer' star Harris gets 12 years for seeking photos, sex

A federal judge has sentenced Jerry Harris, a former star of the Netflix documentary series “Cheer,” to 12 years in prison for coercing teenage boys to send him obscene photos and videos of themselves and soliciting sex from minors at cheerleading competitions

Cheer Star Child Pornography
Cheer Star Child Pornography

A federal judge Wednesday sentenced Jerry Harris, a former star of the Netflix documentary series “Cheer,” to 12 years in prison for coercing teenage boys to send him obscene photos and videos of themselves and soliciting sex from minors at cheerleading competitions.

U.S. District Judge Manish Shah also ordered that the sentence be followed by eight years of court-supervised release.

Shah told Harris to consider the sentence 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.”

Harris, 22, of suburban Naperville, pleaded guilty earlier this year to one count each of receiving child pornography and traveling with the intention to engage in illegal sexual conduct.

A prosecutor had asked for a sentence of 15 years followed by 10 years of supervised release while attorneys for Harris sought a sentence of six years and eight years of supervised release.

Before learning his sentence, Harris apologized to his victims, saying, “I am deeply sorry for all the trauma my abuse has caused you. I pray deep down that your suffering comes to an end.”

“I’m not an evil person,” Harris said. “I’m still learning who I am and what my purpose is.”

Harris has been in custody at a federal detention facility.

Sarah Klein, an attorney for two of the victims, issued a statement saying Harris’ guilt was “firmly established.”

“The sentence he received reflects the severity of his crimes and the lifetime of pain his victims will suffer,” Klein said.

Harris was arrested in September 2020 on a charge of production of 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 that Harris admitted to repeatedly asking a minor teen for pornographic videos and images between December 2018 and March 2020.

Then in December of that year, he was indicted on more charges alleging misconduct in Illinois, Florida and Texas. According to the indictment, Harris allegedly solicited sex from minors at cheerleading competitions and convinced teenage boys to send him obscene photographs and videos of themselves.

Harris admitted to FBI agents to asking a teenage boy to send him lewd photographs of himself, and to requesting child pornography on Snapchat from at least 10 to 15 others he knew to be minors, according to the indictment.

“Cheer” was a huge success when it was released in January 2020 and Harris became wildly popular for his upbeat attitude and his encouraging “mat talk.” Harris even interviewed celebrities on the red carpet at the Academy Awards for “The Ellen DeGeneres Show.”

The docuseries follows the competitive cheerleading squad from Navarro College in Corsicana, Texas.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in