Jerry Harris has pleaded guilty to two of seven federal charges brought against him alleging sex crimes involving minors. Harris had become a national name after the debut of the Netflix docuseries Cheer but now could face 50 years in prison.
Harris's plea was a part of a plea agreement with prosecutors, according to The New York Times. The former cheerleader had initially pleaded not guilty to charges involving five minors. Among the charges were four counts of sexual exploitation of children, one count of receiving and attempting to receive child pornography, one count of traveling with the intent to engage in sexual conduct with a minor, and one count of enticement.
Harris pleaded guilty to one felony count of receiving and attempting to receive child pornography and one felony count of traveling with the intent to engage in sexual conduct with a minor.
Prosecutors alleged that Harris "repeatedly requested that a 17-year-old send him sexually explicit photos and videos, in exchange for a total of about $3,000," the Times reports. He also traveled from Texas to Florida to have sex with a 15-year-old.
Harris said in a statement that he had been sexually abused as a child.
“There being no safe harbor to discuss his exploitation, Jerry instead masked his trauma and put on the bright face and infectious smile that the world came to know,” the statement said. “As we now know, Jerry became an offender himself as an older teenager.”
Harris previously admitted he had sent sexually explicit photos with at least 10 people that he knew were minors and engaged in sex with a 15-year-old. He has reportedly been in therapy while in prison.
Harris's sentencing hearing is currently set for June 28. Sentencing guidelines “may recommend 50 years in prison,” the Times notes.
Cheer's second season premiered while Harris was being held in a detention center.