‘Cheer’ Star Jerry Harris Arrested on Child Pornography Charge

Jerry Harris (Credit: Instagram)

Jerry Harris, breakout star of the Netflix cheerleading docuseries Cheer, was arrested Thursday morning on a federal child pornography charge, the U.S. Attorney’s Office Northern District of Illinois said in a press release.

The 21-year-old athlete from Naperville, IL, allegedly solicited pornographic images and videos from 14-year-old twin brothers on multiple occasions, according to the criminal complaint filed against Harris.

In interviews with USA Today, the twins alleged Harris began to solicit them online and at cheer competitions when they were 13 and he was 19.

The twins and their mother are said to have shown the newspaper screenshots from text messages and social media exchanges with accounts they said belong to Harris. The screenshots included messages requesting nude photos or sex. In one conversation on Snapchat, an account with the name “.jerry harris” responded to a photo of one of the boys stretching his leg above his head. “Do it naked and take a video and show me,” Harris is alleged to have responded.

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Jerry Harris rose to prominence on Cheer. (Credit: Netflix)
Jerry Harris gained prominence on Cheer. (Credit: Netflix)

According to prosecutors, Harris first contacted one of the boys on Instagram in 2018. One of the teens said he sent nude photographs to Harris. The other boy alleged that Harris asked him for photographs but he always said no.

Prosecutors accused Harris of “enticing an underage boy to produce sexually explicit videos and photos of himself.”

Harris gained national prominence earlier this year, when he was featured on Netflix’s Cheer documentary series.

He had been facing accusations of sexual misconduct after the twins named him in a sexual exploitation lawsuit filed on Monday.

A spokesperson for Harris denied the allegations when they were first reported.

“We categorically dispute the claims made against Jerry Harris, which are alleged to have occurred when he was a teenager,” the spokesperson said in a statement.

Forensic investigations into the boys’ phones showed text messages and Snapchat communications between the two and Harris, according to the complaint. Harris confirmed to investigators during a voluntary interview Monday that the phone number on the boys’ phones was his, the complaint said.

Prosecutors said Harris told investigators he solicited and received nude photos from 10 to 15 other individuals he knew were minors.

Harris made his initial court appearance Thursday afternoon in Chicago.  Prosecutors asked a judge that he be held without bond pending trial because he is considered a danger to the community.

If convicted, production of child pornography is punishable by 15 to 30 years in prison.

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