Jerry Harris, who gained prominence due to his role in Netflix’s hit docu-series Cheer, has been sentenced after pleading guilty to sex crimes. After being arrested in 2020 and later pleading “not guilty” to the charges against him, he changed his plea to “guilty” back in February 2022. Now, the judge has handed down his sentence: 12 years in federal prison.
The former Cheer star pleaded guilty to one charge for sexually assaulting a 15-year-old during a cheer competition, as well as one charge of paying a 17-year-old to send him sexually explicit video and photos via Snapchat, according to court records (via USA Today). Harris himself reportedly admitted to other instances of misconduct involving minors, but he has been sentenced for just those two charges due to a plea agreement. Prosecutors dismissed the other charges.
According to the outlet, Harris apologized to his victims and said that he’s “not an evil person” while in court on July 6. He also said:
The sentencing involved a hearing that reportedly ran for almost seven hours, and resulted in U.S. District Judge Manish Shah handing down a further sentence in addition to the 12 years in federal prison. Jerry Harris is also facing eight years of supervised release after he completes his time in prison.
The 12-year sentence came after Harris’ lawyers argued for a considerably shorter prison term of six years, citing his own sexual assault as a teenager at his cheer gym and a difficult childhood. Character references in the form of letters and videos were used in support of this argument. References are said to have come from fellow Cheer castmates, as well as coach Monica Aldama.
Monica Aldama previously commented on the case against Jerry Harris, writing shortly after his arrest that her heart was “shattered into a million pieces” and she was “devastated” by the news that she described as “shocking” and “unexpected.” She said that she was “praying hard” for the victims, and requested privacy as “our family mourns.” The second season of Cheer addressed what were then allegations against him, with the new episodes releasing just under a month before his guilty plea.
At this point, Aldama has not reacted on social media to the news of Harris' sentencing. If Cheer returns for a third season, it’s unknown at this point if and how the docu-series would address his sentencing.
When news of Jerry Harris’ sentence broke, his lawyers could not be reached by USA Today for comment. The judge who determined the length said that it was an “expression of the seriousness” of his crimes, but “tempered with some hope that all is not lost” for him or his victims. Neither Harris nor any representative has publicly commented at the time of writing.
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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. CinemaBlend's resident expert and interviewer for One Chicago, the galaxy far, far away, and a variety of other primetime television. 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).