Jerry Harris, former star of the Netflix docuseries “Cheer,” was sentenced to 12 years in prison on Wednesday (June 6) for sex crimes.
According to an attorney for two of his accusers, Jerry was charged with soliciting sex from minors and pressuring young boys to send him nude photos and videos.
Court records show that Jerry pleaded guilty in February to two charges of sexually assaulting a 15-year-old in a bathroom during a cheer competition and paying a 17-year-old to send him sexually explicit photos and videos via Snapchat.
Jerry admitted to similar conduct with other minors, but prosecutors agreed to dismiss those charges as a part of his plea deal.
Court documents show that Jerry’s attorneys argued for a six-year sentence because of his troubled childhood.
His attorneys said he had a “warped” view of relationships because he was sexually assaulted at 13 by a 19-year-old from his cheer gym.
Prosecutors who asked for a 15-year sentence acknowledged Jerry’s difficult childhood, but they concluded it was “not a blank check to commit sex offenses against minors.”
Assistant U.S. Attorney Kelly Guzman wrote in her sentencing memorandum:
Harris used his celebrity and wealth to continue his exploitation of children, expanding the tools available to him to manipulate them into gratifying his seemingly insatiable sexual desires.
Kristen and her twin sons, Charlie and Sam, were the first to report allegations of misconduct against Jerry in Texas.
The family’s last name was withheld because the twins are minors and alleging abuse.
In interviews with USA TODAY, Sam and Charlie described a pattern of harassment from Jerry that started when they were 13 and he was 19.
The twins said the harassment lasted for over a year.
Watch the video below:
The twins are now 16, and they gave statements in court on Wednesday detailing how Jerry’s abuse has impacted their lives from the loss of friendships to their struggles with anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Charlie said he was so afraid of public restrooms after Jerry pressured him for sex in one that he stop eating at school so he wouldn’t have to use the bathroom.
Charlie also said he knew what Jerry was doing to him and his brother was wrong, but people told him if he reported it they would turn their back on him.
Charlie wrote in his statement:
I knew in my heart and soul that what Jerry was doing to me and Sam was bad.
But everyone was telling me that is just the way Jerry is and that if I were ever to report him that everyone would turn their back on me because I would have ruined the life of such an amazing person that everyone loved.
Sam said he and his brother decided they had to speak up after they found out Jerry was abusing others.
It made us realize that we couldn’t stay quiet – that we had to speak up, no matter how much it cost us. And it cost us SO much.
Reportedly, the FBI investigation into Jerry started in September 2020, at the height of his celebrity.
During that time he had picked up sponsorships with Starburst, Cheerios, and Walmart.
And he had worked the red carpet for “The Ellen DeGeneres Show.”
He was still spending time in cheer gyms, despite the allegations against him being reported to the sport’s governing body in May 2020.
The U.S. All-Star Federation (USASF) waited four months to suspend Jerry, and they did so only after the news organization published an article about the allegations.
Jerry is still facing a civil lawsuit filed by Kristen and her twin sons.
Kristen said in a statement on Wednesday, “entities that control all-star cheerleading were eager to ride on his coattails” as Jerry’s celebrity status grew and brought positive attention to the sport.
Now it is time for those same organizations to demonstrate an unequivocal commitment to the transparency, accountability, and substantive change necessary to prevent this from ever happening again.
Sara Klein, the attorney for Kristen and her twin sons stated:
Jerry Harris’ guilt has been firmly established.
The sentence he received reflects the severity of his crimes and the lifetime of pain his victims will suffer.
After approximately a seven-hour hearing, U.S. District Judge Manish Shah also sentenced Jerry to eight years of supervised release following his term in prison.
The judge told Jerry the sentence was an “expression of the seriousness of your crimes, tempered with some hope that all is not lost for you or your victims, and that in the future some healing can occur.”
Jerry Harris apologized to his victims in court on Wednesday.
I am deeply sorry for all the trauma my abuse has caused you,” he said. “I pray deep down that your suffering comes to an end.
Source: USA Today