- Jerry Harris, 21, was arrested and charged in federal court in Chicago with producing child pornography, as first reported by Jason Meisner at the Chicago Tribune.
- On Monday, USA Today and the New York Times reported that two 14-year-old twin boys had sued Harris over claims of sexual abuse.
- A representative for Harris did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.
- Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Netflix’s “Cheer” star Jerry Harris was arrested and charged in federal court in Chicago with producing child pornography, as first reported by Jason Meisner at the Chicago Tribune.
News that the 21-year-old TV personality had been sued over claims of sexual abuse first broke on Monday. USA Today was first to report that Harris was under investigation by the FBI for allegedly soliciting sexually explicit photos and sex from minors.
The allegations were made by 14-year-old twin brothers. A lawsuit was filed against Harris on behalf of the two brothers in the District Court of Tarrant County in Texas.
A representative for Harris, as well as the Department of Justice, did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.
“We categorically dispute the claims made against Jerry Harris, which are alleged to have occurred when he was a teenager,” a spokesperson for Harris said in a statement to Variety on Monday, responding to the initial allegations of sexual abuse. “We are confident that when the investigation is completed the true facts will be revealed.”
“A Naperville man was arrested today on a federal child pornography charge for allegedly enticing an underage boy to produce sexually explicit videos and photos of himself,” the US attorney’s office in the Northern District of Illinois said in a released statement.
The statement goes on to say that Harris, referred to by his full name of Jeremiah, “contacted the underage boy on a social media application and repeatedly enticed him to produce sexually explicit videos and photographs of himself and send them to Harris.”
Harris was one of several college students featured in the Netflix documentary series “Cheer,” which premiered in January of this year and gave an inside look of the Navarro College cheerleading team. Harris had breakout success after the show, including representing “The Ellen Show” on the red carpet at the Oscars.
USA Today first reported about the lawsuit brought against Harris on Monday. In USA Today’s report, brothers Sam and Charlie (whose last names were withheld because they are minors), provided screenshots of Snapchat conversations with Harris.
Charlie and Sam said they met Harris in 2018, before the now-21-year-old was made internationally famous in Netflix’s documentary. Charlie told USA Today he was 13 when Harris first sent a request to follow his private Instagram account. Harris was 19 years old at the time. Charlie said he had only recently joined the competitive cheerleading world.
“I was getting a bad feeling from it from the beginning,” Charlie said in an interview with USA Today. “Because it would be weird for someone like that to just want to be friends with me just randomly.”
The full criminal complaint includes notes from an interview with Harris in which he admitted to ‘soliciting and receiving child pornography on Snapchat from at least between 10 to 15 other individuals he knew were minors’
The filing was made by FBI agent Edward Augustus Goodman, whose affidavit includes screenshots provided by “Minors 1 and 2.”
The complaint says law enforcement interviewed Harris at home on September 14, during which the accused made several “material admissions.” Most of the listed admissions centre around “Minor 1.” The interview section with Harris also says he “admitted to soliciting and receiving child pornography on Snapchat from at least between 10 to 15 other individuals he knew were minors.”
The criminal complaint also addresses interviews with two additional individuals who are identified as “Minors 4 and 5.” It says Harris repeatedly contacted “Minor 4” on Snapchat after meeting him this summer and to ask for “naked photographs.” The complaint says Harris offered money for these images, a total of “approximately $US2,000 and $US3,000.”
The complaint goes on to say “Minor 4” told a second 17-year-old, “Minor 5,” about the requests from Harris. “Minor 5” offered to take photographs of himself for “Minor 4” to send to Harris, according to the complaint. Neither “Minor 4” nor “Minor 5” are listed in the section regarding Harris’ interview.
The last listed admission says Harris “admitted to engaging in anal and oral sex with a 15 year old minor (Minor 3) at a cheer event in 2019.”
You can view the full filed criminal complaint, which charges Harris with one count of producing child pornography, below. Production of child pornography is punishable by a minimum sentence of 15 years in prison and a maximum of 30 years, according to the US attorney’s office in the Northern District of Illinois.
Harris was arrested Thursday morning and is expected to make his initial court appearance at 2 p.m. CT in Chicago, Illinois.
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