US

Cheer star jailed over multiple child sex charges

Jerry Harris, star of Netflix TV series Cheer, has been sentenced to 12 years in prison in the US for crimes relating to indecent images of children and soliciting sex from minors.

The 22-year-old previously pleaded guilty to one count of travelling with the intent to engage in illicit sexual conduct and one count of receiving indecent images.

Prosecutors at the Chicago hearing had called for a lengthy jail term, arguing Harris’ status as a popular celebrity enabled him to “persuade and entice” his young victims to engage in sexual conduct.

Harris, has been in custody at a federal detention facility since his arrest in September 2020.

In February this year, he pleaded guilty to two of seven counts against him, including persuading a 17-year-old to send him sexually explicit photographs for money and travelling to Florida for the purpose of “engaging in illicit sexual conduct” with a 15-year-old.

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 later admitted to FBI agents to asking a teenage boy to send him photos of himself and to requesting indecent images on Snapchat from at least 10 to 15 others he knew to be minors.

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Harris, from the Chicago suburb of Naperville, was a breakout star of Cheer, a reality TV series which tracked a competitive cheerleading squad from Navarro College in Texas as they aim to win a national title.

Other members of the show had acted as character witnesses for Harris, including Navarro college head coach Monica Aldama, teammate Morgan Simianer, and the parents of Harris’ fellow cheerleader, Gabi Butler.

The second series of Cheer addresses the investigation into Harris, and dedicates an entire episode to the incidents, titled “Jerry”.

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