Former star of Netflix’s Cheer docuseries Jerry Harris has been sentenced to 12 years in prison over charges including soliciting sex from minors.
Harris, 22, was arrested in September 2020 after FBI raided his home. He was indicted on seven counts including receiving and attempting to receive child pornography and persuading minors to engage in sexual contact.
The incidents ranged from August 2017 to August 2020 and involved children from Texas, Florida and Illinois.
Harris pleaded guilty to two charges in February, including sexually assaulting a 15-year-old in a bathroom during a cheer event and paying a 17-year-old for nudes on Snapchat. Other charges he admitted to were dropped because of a plea deal.
U.S. District Judge Manish Shah sentenced Harris to 12 years in prison on Thursday.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Kelly Guzman asked for a 15 year sentence, according to USA Today.
Harris’ lawyers argued for only six years in prison, claiming he had a “warped” perception of relationships because he was also sexually abused as a teenager in the cheerleading community. They included character references from more than 80 people, some of which were from his former Cheer castmates.
here’s the full list of individuals who submitted character videos/letters for jerry harris. i’m disgusted by every single one of them. pic.twitter.com/wl7dI7Zb4n— t (they/them) (@iasfsuccz) July 6, 2022
Guzman argued a traumatic upbringing was “not a blank cheque to commit sex offences against minors.”
“Harris used his celebrity and wealth to continue his exploitation of children, expanding the tools available to him to manipulate them into gratifying his seemingly insatiable sexual desires,” she wrote in her sentencing memorandum, per USA Today.
Harris was also sentenced to eight years of supervised release following his term in prison.
Jerry Harris was one of the most popular stars to emerge from the hit docuseries Cheer, which won an Emmy the day after he was arrested.
Season two of Cheer addresses the charges against Harris in episode five, titled “Jerry”. It includes first-hand accounts from the two teenage boys who first came forward.
Help is available.
If you require immediate assistance, please call 000.
If you’d like to speak to someone about sexual violence, please call the 1800 Respect hotline on 1800 737 732 or chat online.
Under 25? You can reach Kids Helpline at 1800 55 1800 or chat online.