Cheer star Jerry Harris pleaded guilty today in a federal case where he was accused of soliciting sex from minors and coercing teenage boys into sending him explicit photos.
At a change of plea hearing, Harris admitted two of the seven charges he was facing — receiving child pornography and traveling over state lines with the aim of engaging in illicit sexual acts with a minor.
U.S. District Judge Manish Shah told him he could be sentenced to up to 50 years in prison, and according to TMZ his fate will be announced at a hearing on June 28.
In December 2020, Harris had been indicted on a string of charges alleging he attempted to engage in sexual misconduct with underage victims in three different states.
Among the charges at the time, federal prosecutors alleged that the former Cheer star tried to lure underage boys to engage in sexual acts during cheerleading events and received and attempted to receive child pornography.
The charges related to five alleged victims.
Harris was labeled ‘a danger to the community’
Harris’s original seven-count indictment alleged he carried out sexual misconduct in Florida, Illinois, and Texas.
Shortly after his September 2020 arrest, U.S. Magistrate Judge Heather McShain ordered that Harris be held behind bars, labeling him a “danger to the community.”
“[Harris] was not a child,” McShain said, referring to the times the alleged offenses took place. “He was an adult.”
Before today’s hearing, Harris was being held without bond in Chicago’s Metropolitan Correctional Center.
Netflix show documented allegations
While appearing on the Netflix show, Harris captured Cheer fans’ hearts with his spirited personality and inspiring mat talks. He spoke of his childhood struggles and the pain of losing his mother, which resonated with many fans of the hit docu-series.
Season 2 of Cheer brought light to Harris’ arrest, shocking those in the cheerleading community.
Jerry Harris has support from his former Navarro College teammate Gabi Butler
Not surprisingly, Harris’ charges shocked his teammates and coaches, as well as Cheer viewers and fans of the sport of cheerleading. However, he has support from one of his former Navarro College teammates.
Earlier this month, Harris’ former teammate Gabi Butler, who will perform on the Cheer Live tour this summer, spoke about why she has chosen to remain friends with Harris.
Admittedly, Gabi was “devastated” to hear the news of Harris’ charges and arrest. “The Jerry that I knew was the Jerry that you [viewers] saw,” Gabi said.
During Season 2 of Cheer, Gabi revealed that she wouldn’t turn her back on Harris because he’s like family to her. Gabi still feels the same today.
“What I said then is exactly how I feel to this day,” Gabi revealed. “Like, my feelings will never change on that and I stand very strongly in what I said.
“Um, just because obviously, do I support the things that happened? Absolutely not. But, I do think that he is always gonna have a place in my heart that I feel will never just go away.”
To report an incident involving the possession, distribution, receipt, or production of child pornography, file a report on the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC)’s website at www.cybertipline.com, or call 1-800-843-5678.
Seasons 1 and 2 of Cheer are currently streaming on Netflix.