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Cheer Star Jerry Harris Charged with Producing Child Pornography

on September 17, 2020, 2:10pm

Cheer star Jerry Harris has been charged with producing child pornography.

In a complaint filed by federal prosecutors in the Northern District of Illinois, Harris, 21, is accused of contacting two underage boys on social media and soliciting explicit photographs and videos. One of the boys allegedly responded to Harris’ request by sending several photos and videos.

Harris is also accused of soliciting oral sex from one of the boys in a bathroom at a cheerleading event they both attended.

Harris was arrested Thursday morning and is scheduled to make his first court appearance later today. Update: According to the complaint (via EW), Harris participated in a voluntary interview with investigators and admitted to asking between 10-15 underage boys — including the victim mentioned in the complaint — for explicit photos and videos. Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph Fitzpatrick said their investigation is ongoing and Harris could face additional charges.

Earlier this week, the FBI executed a search warrant at Harris’ home in Naperville, Illinois. The agency was tipped off by Harris’ former employer Varsity Brands, a large company heavily involved in various facets of the cheerleading industry. In a letter sent to police in Florida and Texas last month, Varsity said it was made aware of “inappropriate sexual conduct” allegations and felt obligated to report them. It subsequently terminated Harris’ employment.

“As a result of the recent allegation, we have barred this person from having any affiliation with Varsity Brands or any of its subsidiaries or affiliates, now and in the future,” the company wrote.

In interviews with USA TODAY, the boys described a pattern of harassment, both online and at cheer competitions, that started when they were 13 and Harris was 19. They said it continued for more than a year.” Harris celebrated his 21st birthday this past August.

Harris was known for his positive and effervescent attitude on Cheer, the popular Netflix docuseries that followed a Dallas-area cheerleading squad. He was later celebrated as a young Black gay icon and even covered the Oscars for the Ellen DeGeneres Show. In the lead-up to Election Day, Harris also recently appeared in an Instagram video with Joe Biden.