Jerry Harris, star of the Netflix documentary series “Cheer,” was arrested and charged with production of child pornography in a federal court in Chicago on Thursday.
According to a criminal complaint, Harris, 21, of Naperville, Illinois, is accused of “enticing an underage boy to produce sexually explicit videos and photos of himself,” WMAQ reported. According to the complaint, Harris admitted to asking for and receiving child pornography from at least “10 to 15 individuals” he knew were minors, according to The New York Times. Harris also said he had sex with a 15-year-old at a cheerleading event in 2019, according to the complaint.
Harris made his initial court appearance Thursday afternoon at the Dirksen U.S. Courthouse in Chicago, according to the Chicago Tribune. Prosecutors asked U.S. Magistrate Judge David Weisman to hold Harris without bail pending trial, the newspaper reported.
If convicted, Harris faces a minimum sentence of 15 years in prison and a maximum of 30 years.
“Cheer” followed the cheerleaders of Navarro College in Corsicana, Texas, as they prepared for a national competition.
Harris graduated in 2017 from Waubonsie Valley High School in Aurora, Illinois, where he was a standout student, and studied at Navarro, the Tribune reported.
Harris had been facing accusations of sexual misconduct after being named, along with the United States All-Star Federation, in a federal sexual exploitation lawsuit earlier this week in Texas, according to WMAQ. According to attorney John Manly, two of the boys, twin brothers, accused Harris of sending sexually explicit messages via text and social media, saying Harris “tried to engage” the boys in sex.
“My clients' mother found inappropriate texts from Mr. Harris on the child’s phone, involving sex,” Manly told the television station.
The boys are now 14, the Times reported. Their names are not included in the criminal complaint because they are minors.
A spokesperson for Harris told Entertainment Tonight after the Texas lawsuit was filed that the actor disputed any claims against him.
“We categorically dispute the claims made against Jerry Harris, which are alleged to have occurred when he was a teenager,” the statement read. “We are confident that when the investigation is completed the true facts will be revealed."
“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,” Morgan Stewart and Sarah Klein, the boys' lawyers, said in a statement on Thursday.
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