A federal judge on Wednesday sentenced Jerry Harris, a former star of the Netflix documentary series Cheerto 12 years in prison for forcing teenagers to send him obscene photos and videos of themselves and for soliciting sex from minors at cheerleading competitions.
U.S. District Judge Manish Shah also ordered that the sentence be followed by eight years of court-supervised release.
Shah told Harris to view the sentence as “an expression of the seriousness of your crimes, tempered by some hope that all is not lost for you or your victims, and that in the future a cure may occur”.
Harris, 22, of suburban Naperville, Illinois, pleaded guilty earlier this year to one count of receiving child pornography and traveling with intent to engage in illegal sexual activity.
A prosecutor had asked for a 15-year sentence followed by 10 years of supervised release while Harris’ lawyers were asking for a six-year sentence and eight years of supervised release.
Harris apologized to the victims
Before learning of his pain, Harris apologized to his victims, saying, “I am deeply sorry for all the trauma my abuse has caused you. I pray deeply that your suffering ends.”
“I’m not a bad person,” Harris said. “I’m still learning who I am and what my purpose is.”
Harris was held in a federal detention center.
Sarah Klein, the attorney for two of the victims, released a statement saying Harris’ guilt was “firmly established”.
“The sentence he received reflects the gravity of his crimes and the lifetime of pain his victims will suffer,” Klein said.
Arrested for child pornography in 2020
Harris was arrested in September 2020 for producing child pornography. Prosecutors alleged at the time that he solicited videos and images from two 14-year-old brothers.
According to a complaint, federal prosecutors said Harris admitted to repeatedly asking an underage teenager for pornographic videos and images between December 2018 and March 2020.
Then, in December of that year, he was indicted on further misconduct charges in Illinois, Florida and Texas. According to the indictment, Harris allegedly solicited sex from minors at cheerleading competitions and convinced teenagers to send him obscene photographs and videos of themselves.
Harris admitted to FBI agents asking a teenager to send him lewd photos of himself and asking for child pornography on Snapchat from at least 10 to 15 other people he knew were underage, according to the indictment. ‘charge.
Cheer was a huge hit when it was released in January 2020, and Harris has become hugely popular for his upbeat attitude and encouraging “mat talk.” Harris even interviewed celebrities on the Oscars red carpet for The Ellen DeGeneres Show.
The docuseries follows Navarro College’s competitive cheerleading team in Corsicana, Texas.