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(Credit: Netflix)

Film

Former 'Cheer' star Jerry Harris sentenced to 12 years in prison on sex abuse charges

Jerry Harris, star of the Netflix series Cheer, which follows a cheerleading team from Navarro College in Corsicana, Texas, has been given a 12-year prison sentence for allegations pertaining to images of child sex abuse and soliciting sex from minors.

Harris has been in custody at a federal detention facility since he was arrested in September 2020. It had been alleged by prosecutors that Harris had solicited videos and photos from two 14-year-old brothers. 

They also said that Harris had admitted to persistently asking a minor teen for explicit content between December 2018 and March 2020. Then in December 2020, Harris was apprehended on further charges of misconduct in Illinois, Florida and Texas.

According to an indictment, Harris was soliciting sex from underage children at cheerleader contests and manipulating young boys to send him pornographic images of themselves. Harris admitted to the FBI that he had been doing this and had requested images of child sex abuse on Snapchat from at least ten people he knew to be underage.

In federal court in Chicago on Wednesday, July 6th, Judge Manish S. Shah sentenced Harris to 12 years imprisonment following the prosecutors’ plea for a heavy sentence, arguing that Harris’ fame had allowed him to persuade and lure his victims into performing obscene acts. 

Harris pleaded guilty to two counts of sexual misconduct at a plea hearing in February this year, with prosecutors dropping a further five counts under a plea agreement. Charges of image-based child sex abuse typically carry a sentence of five to 20 years in the States, with a second charge carrying a maximum of 30 years.