Jerry Harris, a former ‘Cheer’ star, has entered a guilty plea in a federal child p*rn*graphy case and faces up to 30 years in jail.

Jerry Harris, the former star of the Netflix documentary series “Cheer,” pled guilty to federal counts of obtaining child pornography and soliciting sex from minors on Thursday, which may land him in prison for a long time.

Harris, 22, was charged with receiving and attempting to obtain child pornography, as well as persuading kids to engage in sexual intercourse, in December 2020. Prosecutors said the alleged crimes took place between August 2017 and August 2020 and affected victims in Florida, Illinois, and Texas.

Manish Shah pleaded guilty to two of the seven criminal counts against him during a change of plea hearing on Thursday afternoon, February 10, before a U.S. District Judge, one for enticing a 17-year-old to send him sexually explicit images for money and the other resulting from the same.

Harris, a Naperville, Illinois native, was arrested in September 2020 on a charge of child pornography manufacturing. Prosecutors said at the time that he asked two 14-year-old brothers for recordings and photographs.

Federal prosecutors claimed Harris acknowledged to regularly asking an underage teen for pornographic movies and photographs between December 2018 and March 2020, according to a complaint.

Then, in December of that year, he was indicted in Illinois, Florida, and Texas on new accusations claiming wrongdoing. Harris allegedly solicited sex from juveniles at cheerleading contests and persuaded young males to email him pornographic images and videos of themselves, according to the indictment.

To FBI investigators, Harris admitted to asking a teen kid to give him pornographic images of himself.

“At least in part, Mr. Harris has stepped up and taken responsibility for what he’s done,” said Saul Wolf, a victim’s attorney. “Those who enabled this to happen must also come up and do the same, accept responsibility, and be held accountable.”

When “Cheer” was released in January 2020, it was a great hit, and Harris became famous for his positive demeanor and encouraging “mat talk.” For “The Ellen DeGeneres Show,” Harris even interviewed celebrities on the red carpet at the Academy Awards.

Todd Pugh, Harris’ attorney, issued the following statement on Thursday:

Jerry Harris has entered a guilty plea today because he wants to publicly apologize for the hurt he has caused the victims in this case. Jerry is a 22-year-old young man whose tale can only be understood through the prism of his childhood, which was marked by great poverty, sexual abuse, and neglect. In this case, the illegal activity took place in the context of a competitive cheer community, where excessively sexualizing and sexually abusing youngsters was far too widespread and often unnoticed. Jerry was exploited, deceived, and sexually molested as a child within the Cheer Community in a way that perversely led him to believe that such behavior was acceptable when it wasn’t.

Jerry covered his pain and put on the bright face and infectious smile that the world came to know because there was no safe harbor to share his victimization. Jerry, as we now know, became an offender as an older adolescent. Jerry has actively sought and is participating in mental health treatment and counseling for both his conduct and the identified trauma problems for which he suffers since his incarceration. Jerry will spend the rest of his life making apologies for what he has done as a result of his guilty plea. His desire is to show those who have been damaged by his actions that he can one day win back their respect as a human being, and that as long as he continues to do so, he will be able to do so.

The United States All Star Federation, which has been named in a civil complaint, issued the following statement on Thursday:

The objective of the USASF is to promote athlete safety in all facets. Any allegations of sexual abuse of our athletes are strongly condemned by the USASF. We make every effort to assist victims through proper procedures. For our athletes, we are dedicated to this purpose every day.

The civil suit also names Varsity Spirit, which issued the following statement on Thursday:

Mr. Harris’ actions and the impact they have had on the athletes have severely hurt Varsity Spirit. We also appreciate law enforcement’s dedication and perseverance in bringing this case to a conclusion. Varsity Spirit’s timely notification to law enforcement is public record, and we continue to maintain vigilance.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *