Netflix 'Cheer' star Jerry Harris charged with child pornography

ByABC 7 Chicago Digital Team KGO logo
Friday, September 18, 2020
Netflix 'Cheer' star charged with child pornography
Sandy Kenyon has the latest on Netflix "Cheer" star Jerry Harris, who is charged with child pornography.

CHICAGO, Illinois -- Netflix "Cheer" star Jerry Harris has been charged with child pornography Thursday after prosecutors said he enticed an underage boy to produce sexually explicit videos and photos of himself.

Harris, 21, has been charged with one count of producing child pornography, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Illinois said. He was arrested Thursday morning and is scheduled to appear in court Thursday afternoon.

Prosecutors said Harris contacted an underage boy using social media and then enticed the victim to produce the sexually explicit videos and photos of himself and send them back to Harris. According to a criminal complaint, the boy told Harris during their initial encounter that he was 13 years old.

The U.S. Attorney's Office said the crime is punishable by a minimum sentence of 15 years in prison and a maximum of 30 years in prison.

Earlier this week, the FBI raided a home in a suburb of Chicago reported to belong to Harris. The raid came after USA Today reported on the allegations against Harris.

SEE ALSO: RELATED: Netflix 'Cheer' star Jerry Harris reportedly under FBI investigation, facing child sexual abuse lawsuit

A spokesperson for Harris issued a statement Tuesday to ABC News in response to the USA Today story denying that the star solicited sex and sexually explicit photographs from minors.

"We categorically dispute the claims made against Jerry Harris, which are alleged to have occurred when he was a teenager," the spokesperson said. "When the investigation is completed the true facts will be revealed."

On Tuesday, a child sexual abuse lawsuit was filed against Harris, the United States All Star Federation ("USASF"), Varsity Spirit, LLC and Cheer Athletics.

Attorneys representing the two victims allege that Harris befriended the victims when they were 13.

The victims, who are twins, began receiving sexual explicit requests from Harris after sharing their phone numbers and connecting on social media, their attorneys said.

After the charges were announced Thursday, the attorney Sarah Klein of Manly, Stewart & Finaldi released a statement saying,

" We are grateful that the U.S. Attorney and the FBI have taken swift action to protect children by investigating, arresting and charging Jerry Harris. This was made possible because our clients' mother had the courage to report Harris to the FBI as well as the Fort Worth Police Department and provided evidentiary proof of the manipulation, sexual harassment, abuse, and exploitation that her sons had suffered. We urge the authorities to undertake a thorough investigation of the United States All Star Federation, Varsity Spirit, and Cheer Athletics to determine which of their executives, employees, and representatives could have stopped Harris' abuse and failed to do so."

Netflix also released the following statement regarding the incident:

"Like everyone we are shocked by this news. Any abuse of minors is a terrible crime and we respect the legal process."