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Prosecutors seek 15 years for former ‘Cheer’ star Jerry Harris

by Patricia R. Mills

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A prosecutor has asked a federal judge to sentence Jerry Harris, a former star of the Netflix documentary series “Cheer,” to 15 years in prison for coercing teenage boys to send him racy photos and videos of themselves and soliciting sex from minors at cheerleading competitions.

Attorneys for Harris are seeking a sentence of six years.

Prosecutors seek 15 years for former 'Cheer' star Jerry Harris

Assistant U.S. Attorney Kelly Guzman wrote in a sentencing memo late Wednesday that Harris used “his status as a competitive cheerleader, his social media persona, and eventually his celebrity and money, to persuade and entice his young victims to engage in sexually explicit conduct for him or with him.”

Prosecutors seek 15 years for the former “Cheer” star Jerry Harris.
(Photo by Jim Spellman/Getty Images)

Guzman also requested that the sentence include ten years of supervised release after prison.


Harris, 22, of suburban Naperville, pleaded guilty earlier this year to one count each of receiving child pornography and traveling to engage in illegal sexual conduct. He is due to be sentenced on July 6 by U.S. District Judge Manish Shah.

In asking that a six-year sentence be followed by eight years of supervised release, defense attorneys described Harris as “both victimizer and victim,” saying he had sexually assaulted himself as a child.

“The trauma he experienced as a child normalized his skewed version of what he understood to be appropriate relationships. No one was there to stand up for him when he was sexually assaulted as a minor. He is grateful that is not the case for his victims in this case, to whom he is profoundly remorseful.” defense attorneys wrote.

La’Darius Marshall, Monica Aldama, Gabi Butler, and Jerry Harris attend the Build Series to discuss “Cheer” in 2020.
(Photo by Jim Spellman/Getty Images)

Federal prosecutors acknowledged the actor’s traumatic childhood was a mitigating factor in his crimes but said, “while Harris’s childhood was very difficult, it was not a blank check to commit sex offenses against minors.”

Harris remains in custody at a federal detention facility.

Harris was arrested in September 2020 on a charge of producing child pornography. Prosecutors alleged that he solicited videos and images from two 14-year-old brothers.


According to a complaint, federal prosecutors said Harris admitted to repeatedly asking a minor teen for pornographic videos and images between December 2018 and March 2020.

Then in December of that year, he was indicted on more charges alleging misconduct in Illinois, Florida, and Texas. According to the indictment, Harris allegedly solicited sex from minors at cheerleading competitions and convinced teenage boys to send him obscene photographs and videos of themselves.

Jerry Harris (R) attends the 2020 Vanity Fair Oscar Party hosted by Radhika Jones.
(Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)

Harris admitted to FBI agents asking a teenage boy to send him lewd photographs of himself and requesting child pornography on Snapchat from at least 10 to 15 others he knew to be minors, according to the indictment.


“Cheer” was a huge success when it was released in January 2020, and Harris became wildly popular for his upbeat attitude and encouraging “mat talk.” Harris even interviewed celebrities on the red carpet at the Academy Awards for “The Ellen DeGeneres Show.”

The docuseries follows the competitive cheerleading squad from Navarro College in Corsicana, Texas.

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