Ex-‘Cheer’ star Jerry Harris will get 12 years in jail in youngster intercourse abuse photographs case

Jerry Harris, one of many breakout stars of the Netflix docuseries “Cheer,” was sentenced Wednesday to 12 years in jail on federal costs involving youngster sexual abuse photographs.

Harris, 22, was indicted on seven counts of receiving and making an attempt to obtain youngster pornography and of persuading minors to have interaction in sexual contact from August 2017 to August 2020. Prosecutors mentioned the acts concerned victims in Texas, Florida and Illinois.

His was sentenced to 12 years in jail, to be adopted by 8 years of court-supervised launch, Joseph D. Fitzpatrick, assistant U.S. legal professional for the Northern District of Illinois, confirmed to NBC Information.

Prosecutors had sought a 15-year sentence for Harris, writing in a sentencing memorandum that he used “his standing as a aggressive cheerleader, his social media persona, and finally his celeb and cash” to influence underage boys into sending sexually express content material.

Harris, who promoted himself as a “mentor who might be trusted,” would strain his victims and supply to pay them in trade for sexual conduct and favors, prosecutors mentioned. When that didn’t work, he “threatened to disseminate the movies that they had despatched in the event that they refused to proceed,” in response to the sentencing memorandum.

Prosecutors mentioned Harris’ habits continued till his arrest in September 2020.

Attorneys for Harris argued that their shopper skilled sexual assault as a baby and due to this fact had a “skewed model of what he understood to be applicable relationships,” courtroom paperwork acknowledged. They requested for six years in jail.

The previous cheerleader and tv star initially pleaded not responsible to the costs however modified it in February to plead responsible to 2 of the counts within the indictment, receiving youngster pornography and fascinating in interstate journey for the aim of partaking in a sexual act with a minor.

Two of the victims are twin brothers. One of many boys informed police that Harris solicited oral intercourse from him in a rest room throughout a cheerleading occasion they each attended, in response to a criticism. Harris was additionally accused of contacting the boy on Instagram in 2018 when Harris was 19 and the boy was 13, the criticism mentioned.

The criticism additional alleges that one of many boys mentioned he despatched Harris nude footage on Snapchat at Harris’ request and communicated with Harris on FaceTime, the place Harris requested the boy to show himself.

One brother informed investigators that Harris was “sensitive” and did “odd issues” to him and his sibling, in response to the criticism. He mentioned Harris would ask for nude footage from him and when the boy refused, Harris would turn out to be “pushy,” the criticism mentioned.

The brothers shared their story on the second season of “Cheer,” saying that they had been initially fearful about talking up due to Harris’ celeb and the way it might have an effect on their standing within the cheer group.

Sarah Klein, legal professional for the brothers, recommended the teenage boys for his or her “great braveness” and sacrifice in a press release following Harris’ sentencing.

“Jerry Harris’ guilt has been firmly established,” Klein mentioned. “The sentence he acquired displays the severity of his crimes and the lifetime of ache his victims will undergo.”

The boys gave sufferer statements earlier than the sentencing, and one of many brothers remarked on mourning his misplaced freedom and childhood.

“I needed to give up cheering at my previous health club as a result of folks there disagreed with me and my household due to deciding to talk out,” he mentioned. “The one true group I had at the moment I felt like I had was taken away from me for doing the correct factor.”

One other sufferer, who was 17, informed investigators that Harris was “relentless” in soliciting footage from him on Snapchat, in response to the criticism. The boy mentioned he turned Harris down repeatedly till Harris provided to pay him.

Harris allegedly admitted to investigators throughout a voluntary interview to having despatched and receiving nude photographs and to having texted the brothers, in response to the criticism. He additionally informed investigators that he had solicited and acquired nude footage from 10 to fifteen different minors and had oral and anal intercourse with a 15-year-old, the criticism mentioned.

Harris appeared on the docuseries “Cheer,” which follows a Texas cheerleading staff at Navarro Faculty. Season 2 of the sequence addressed the allegations in opposition to Harris.