Jerry Harris from 'Cheer' charged with producing child pornography

Written by on September 17, 2020

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The FBI is investigating reviews made to police in Texas and Florida by two 14-year-old boys who declare Netflix “Cheer” star Jerry Harris solicited sexually express images and intercourse. USA TODAY

Movie star cheerleader Jerry Harris has been arrested by the FBI and charged with producing youngster pornography for “allegedly engaging an underage boy to supply sexually express movies and images of himself,” in line with the U.S. attorney’s office

Harris admitted to soliciting and receiving express messages on Snapchat from at the very least 10 to 15 different people he knew have been minors, in line with federal court docket information.

Harris, who skilled a meteoric rise to fame this yr when he was featured in Netflix’s “Cheer” docuseries, has been below investigation by the FBI for soliciting images and intercourse from minors, a number of sources instructed USA TODAY.  

USA TODAY reported Monday that the legal investigation relies on allegations introduced by 14-year-old twin brothers. In interviews with USA TODAY, the boys described a sample of harassment, each on-line and at cheer competitions, that began once they have been 13 and Harris was 19. They mentioned it continued for greater than a yr. 

Harris, 21, couldn’t instantly be reached for remark.  

The FBI executed a search warrant at Harris’ Naperville, Illinois, dwelling on Monday as a part of the investigation. On Thursday, FBI particular agent Siobhan Johnson mentioned the company was “conducting approved legislation enforcement exercise in Naperville, Illinois, and different Chicago suburbs this morning.”

The arrest was first reported by the Chicago Tribune. 

Kristen, the mom of the boys who’ve accused Harris of abuse, instructed USA TODAY she filed reviews with the Fort Value, Texas, police on July 10 and the FBI on Aug. 8. Her sons, Charlie and Sam, mentioned they have been 13 once they met Harris. USA TODAY agreed to withhold the household’s final identify as a result of the boys are minors and alleging abuse. 

The household supplied USA TODAY with screenshots from 5 textual content and social media conversations between the boys and accounts they are saying belong to Harris. A number of of screenshots embrace messages explicitly requesting nude images or intercourse. In a single dialog on Snapchat, an account with the identify “.jerry harris” responded to a photograph of Charlie stretching his leg above his head.  

“Do it bare and take a video and present me,” Harris replied privately, in line with a screenshot supplied to USA TODAY. 

Harris is additionally accused of asking one of many brothers to have intercourse with him in 2019 at two cheerleading competitions. 

Varsity, which runs these competitions, on Aug. 1 additionally reported the allegations to police in Florida and Texas, in line with letters obtained by USA TODAY. Within the letters, Varsity’s Chief Authorized Officer Burton Brillhart mentioned the corporate had discovered of “inappropriate sexual conduct” allegations in opposition to Harris and had banned him “from having any affiliation with Varsity Manufacturers or any of its subsidiaries or associates, now and sooner or later.” 

Kristen and the boys on Monday filed a lawsuit in opposition to Harris, Varsity, the U.S. All Star Federation and the Cheer Athletics gymnasium at which Harris has cheered. In it, the household accuses Harris of sexual misconduct and the cheer organizations of negligence and failures to guard the boys from abuse. The lawsuit additionally claims Harris sexually exploited others within the cheer neighborhood. 

“We’re grateful that the U.S. Lawyer and the FBI have taken swift motion to guard kids by investigating, arresting and charging Jerry Harris,” Lawyer Sarah Klein, who represents the household, mentioned in an announcement. “This was made doable as a result of our shoppers’ mom had the braveness to report Harris to the FBI in addition to the Fort Value Police Division and supplied evidentiary proof of the manipulation, sexual harassment, abuse, and exploitation that her sons had suffered.”

Harris, who grew up in Illinois and has cheered since he was a baby, gained nationwide prominence in January via “Cheer,” the docuseries that follows Texas’ Navarro School cheerleaders of their quest for a nationwide title. Viewers have been drawn to his energetic persona and means to stay constructive regardless of private challenges, together with the lack of his mom to most cancers. 

Within the months that adopted, Harris met Oprah Winfrey, interviewed celebrities on the pink carpet of the Oscars for the “Ellen DeGeneres Present” and filmed a brief video with former Vice President Joe Biden. Harris’ Instagram web page has 1.2 million followers. 

If convicted, Harris faces as much as 30 years in federal jail. The U.S. legal professional’s workplace inspired others who could also be “a sufferer of sexual exploitation by Jeremiah Harris” to contact the FBI at (312) 421-6700.

This article might be up to date.  

Tricia L. Nadolny and Marisa Kwiatkowski are reporters on USA TODAY’s nationwide investigative staff.Tricia may be reached tnadolny@usatoday.com or @TriciaNadolny. Marisa may be reached at mkwiatko@usatoday.com, @IndyMarisaK or by cellphone, Sign or WhatsApp at (317) 207-2855. 

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