The Advocate July/Aug 2022
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Jerry Harris, Ex-Cheer Star, Sentenced on Child Porn Charges

Jerry Harris

Jerry Harris, a star of the Netflix docuseries Cheer, has been sentenced to 12 years in prison on charges relating to child pornography.

Harris, 22, was sentenced Wednesday, Joseph D. Fitzpatrick, assistant U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, told NBC News. His prison term will be followed by eight years of supervised release.

Harris was charged in 2020 with seven counts “of receiving and attempting to receive child pornography and of persuading minors to engage in sexual contact from August 2017 to August 2020,” NBC notes.

At first he pleaded not guilty to all the charges, but in a plea deal with prosecutors last February, he agreed to plead guilty to two counts, one of receiving child porn and one of traveling across state lines to engage in a sexual act with a minor.

Harris, who was one of the most popular stars of Cheer, used “his status as a competitive cheerleader, his social media persona, and eventually his celebrity and money” to persuade underage boys to send him sexually explicit material, prosecutors said in a sentencing memorandum. He also threatened to share sexually oriented videos of them, according to the memo.

Prosecutors had sought a 15-year sentence for Harris, while his attorneys asked for six years, saying that because he had been sexually assaulted in his youth, he had a “skewed version of what he understood to be appropriate relationships.” A federal judge in Chicago settled on 12 years.

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