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'Cheer' Star Jerry Harris Pleads Guilty To Two Counts In Federal Sex Crimes Case
As part of a plea agreement, Jerry Harris admitted to receiving child pornography and traveling with the intent to engage in illicit sexual contact with a minor.
"Cheer" star Jerry Harris pleaded guilty in federal court Thursday to receiving child pornography and traveling with the intent to engage in illicit sexual contact with a minor.
As part of a plea deal with prosecutors, the remaining charges against him were dropped, according to the plea agreement obtained by Oxygen.com.
Beginning in July 2020, prosecutors said Harris “knowingly received and attempted to receive child pornography” over Snapchat from a 17-year-old boy, even though Harris knew the teen was underage.
Harris “repeatedly requested” that the teen take sexually explicit photographs and video of himself and send them to the reality star in exchange for approximately $2,000 in payments, prosecutors said.
Harris—who was charged in a seven-count indictment in December of 2020—also admitted to traveling to Florida in May of 2019 “with the intent to engage in a sex act” with a 15-year-old boy, according to the plea agreement.
Prosecutors said Harris flew from Dallas to Orlando where he planned to meet a teen he had “multiple conversations” with in the past. After arriving in Florida, authorities said Harris texted the 15-year-old to meet him in a public bathroom where they said Harris “sexually assaulted” the teen.
Harris is set to be sentenced on June 28. Prosecutors said the child pornography charges carries a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in federal prison and a maximum sentence of 20 years. He could face up to 30 years behind bars for the travel with intent to engage in illicit sexual contact charge.
After the plea, Harris’ defense team released a statement saying that he agreed to the deal because he “wishes to take responsibility for his actions and publicly convey his remorse for the harm he has caused the victims in this case,” People reports.
“Jerry is a 22-year-old young man whose story can only be understood through the lens of the extreme poverty, sexual abuse and neglect of his childhood,” his attorneys said. “Jerry was himself exploited, manipulated and sexually abused as a child within the cheer community in a way that perversely made him believe that this sexual conduct was somehow normal when it’s not.”
His attorneys said Harris never felt he had a place where he could share his own abusive past.
“With this plea of guilty, Jerry will spend the rest of his life making amends for what he has done,” they said. “His hope is that he can demonstrate to those harmed by his conduct that he can one day earn back his value to them as a human being and that as he continues to become an adult, he can indeed make a contribution that matters.”
Harris rose to fame on the popular Netflix docuseries “Cheer,” which follows the Navarro College competitive cheerleading squad in Texas.
He was arrested in September of 2020 after the mother of a 13-year-old boy stumbled upon a “my eyes only” folder on her son’s Snapchat and confronted him. He admitted to sending “over a dozen photographs and videos” to Harris for more than a year, according to a criminal complaint in the case.
The teen told authorities that Harris had also once tried to solicit oral sex from him in a bathroom at a cheerleading convention, but the 13-year-old refused and returned to practice with his team.
His twin brother also told authorities that Harris had allegedly contacted him and asked him to send nude photos, but he always refused.
Harris was later indicted on seven charges in December of that year after new allegations had surfaced against the cheerleading star.
On Thursday, the mother of the twin boys also released a statement commending her sons for coming forward.
“In an effort to put a stop to a serial predator and avert harm to other children, my sons took the brave step of speaking publicly about the sexual abuse they suffered at the hands of Jerry Harris,” she said, according to People. “Harris’ admission of guilty today gives me hope that the pain and grief that my sons have suffered as a result of speaking up has not been in vain.”
She said her “mission” is to hold Harris and others who enabled him accountable for their actions.