Netflix’s Cheer docuseries was a smash binge-watch hit for the streaming service, but the success was followed by news that Jerry Harris, one of the subjects of the series, was under investigation for child pornography. Harris ultimately faced seven charges in the child pornography case against him. Now, he has reversed his earlier plea of “not guilty” to guilty.
Jerry Harris decided to reverse his plea to guilty after reaching a deal with prosecutors, according to The New York Times (via Variety), which reports that the guilty plea covers two of the seven charges. After Harris is sentenced for those two charges, prosecutors will ask Judge Manish S. Shah to drop the other five. Harris’ lawyers released a statement stating that he wants to take responsibility for what he did and “publicly convey his remorse for the harm he has caused the victims.” The statement goes on to claim that he was a victim of sexual abuse as a child as well before becoming “an offender himself as an older teenager.”
The Cheer star was originally arrested back in September 2020, about nine months after the docuseries debuted its first season on Netflix. The initial arrest was for one federal charge of child pornography for allegedly trying to convince an underage boy to make and share explicit videos and photos of himself. The boy was said to be only 13 years old when he first encountered Harris on social media, and reportedly told Harris his age. The Cheer star was 19 at the time. A pair of twin boys also accused Harris of soliciting them for child pornography.
Production of child pornography can be punished by a minimum of 15 years in prison, with a maximum of 30. It’s unclear how Harris’ decision to plead guilty on two of the seven charges will affect his sentence, but TMZ reports that the judge told Jerry Harris that he could get up to 50 years in prison. He’ll only find out the official sentence at a later date. The outlet also reports that screenshots of messages with Harris over text and Snapchat were used as some of the evidence against him.
The arrest and now guilty plea of Jerry Harris are high-profile thanks to the popularity of Cheer, which released its second season in early January of 2022 and brought back one of the most talked-about Netflix shows despite some initial uncertainty about whether or now the show would return for more episodes.
Season 2 didn’t shy away from acknowledging the charges against Harris, which isn’t altogether shocking. Navarro College cheer coach Monica Aldama commented on the reports when they first broke in September of 2020, saying that her heart was “shattered into a million pieces” and she was “devastated by this shocking, unexpected news.” She noted that she was “praying hard for the victims” and everybody who was affected.
An entire episode of Season 2 was dedicated to the situation, which included telling the stories of his alleged victims. As for what Jerry Harris’ future looks like, only the official sentencing will determine what kind of prison time he is facing after his guilty plea.
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Laura turned a lifelong love of television into a valid reason to write and think about TV on a daily basis. She's not a doctor, lawyer, or detective, but watches a lot of them in primetime. Resident of One Chicago, the galaxy far, far away, and Northeast Ohio. Will not time travel and can cite multiple TV shows to explain why. She does, however, want to believe that she can sneak references to The X-Files into daily conversation (and author bios).