The FBI is reportedly investigating "Cheer" star Jerry Harris in relation to allegations that he sexually harassed and solicited sex from underage boys.
Harris, who rose to fame with his appearance on the Netflix docu-series "Cheer," has been accused of sexually inappropriate conduct involving minors, in a USA Today report published Monday. Twin brothers, 14-year-old Charlie and Sam, told the outlet that when Harris was 19 and they were 13, he began harassing them at cheerleading events and via social media and texts, asking for sexually explicit photographs and sex.
The FBI executed a search warrant at Harris' in Naperville, Illinois on Monday, USA Today reports. A spokesperson for the FBI confirmed to the outlet that their organization is "conducting court-authorized law enforcement activity in the area," but declined to elaborate.
To date, Harris has not been charged or arrested, and a spokesperson denied all claims against him in a statement obtained by Variety.
“We categorically dispute the claims made against Jerry Harris, which are alleged to have occurred when he was a teenager,” Harris' representative said. “We are confident that when the investigation is completed the true facts will be revealed.”
During an interview with USA Today in August, the twins (whose last names have been withheld due to privacy concerns) and their mother shared screenshots allegedly depicting the sexual misconduct. In response to a Snapchat photo of Charlie holding his leg above his head, Harris is alleged to have responded privately, "Do it naked and take a video and show me."
Charlie said that his interactions with Harris left him feeling "gross and uncomfortable," and led to anxiety and trouble in school.
Harris, now 21, has also been accused of asking one of the twins to have sex with him at two different Varsity cheerleading competitions, according to USA Today.
Harris was a breakout star of "Cheer," which follows the Texas-based Navarro College Bulldogs Cheer Team as they train and compete in the world of competitive cheerleading. Harris in particular became known for his positive outlook and encouragement of his teammates, and has seen mainstream success following the premiere of the show, appearing on "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" with the rest of the cast earlier this year and later acting as the show's Oscars correspondent.
Harris has also garnered more than 1 million followers on Instagram and has partnered with a number of companies for sponsored social media content. However, he is already facing professional repercussions in relation to sexual misconduct claims; Harris has previously coached at cheerleading camps run by the National Cheerleaders Association, but Varsity Brands, the private company that owns the NCA, reported the allegations against Harris to police in Florida and Texas in August, and banned him from having any association with any of their brands, according to USA Today.
Charlie and Sam's family have also filed a lawsuit in Texas on Monday naming Harris, Varsity, the Cheer Athletics Gym where Harris used to train, and the U.S. All Star Federation, which is the governing body for competitive cheerleading and dance, USA Today reports. The twins' mother, Kristin, told the outlet that she reported her sons' claims to USASF in May and, after receiving only a brief reply, made a second report in July; after that report, officials said they were opening an investigation, but failed to suspend Harris until Monday, when the allegations were made public, according to USA Today.
USASF opted not to provide comment to USA Today, citing the pending investigation, while the owner of the Cheer Athletics gym where Harris used to cheer said that he has not been affiliated with them since March and that she reported the allegations to police in May after first learning of them.
The lawsuit contends that Harris not only engaged in sexual misconduct with Sam and Charlie, but with others as well; the suit also alleges that the various companies and organizations listed failed to do their duty to protect minors from harm, per USA Today's report.
The family is seeking upward of $1 million in damages, according to the outlet.
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