Jeremiah “Jerry” Harris, a star of Netflix’s hit docuseries Cheer, was formally charged Thursday for allegedly producing child pornography.
According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Northern District of Illinois, Harris, 21, was arrested for “allegedly enticing an underage boy to produce sexually explicit videos and photos of himself.” The victim was 13-years-old at the time. Additionally, the criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Chicago accuses Harris of admitting to FBI agents that he solicited and received child pornography on Snapchat from “at least between 10 to 15 other individuals he knew were minors.”
The news broke shortly after two underage twin brothers filed a civil lawsuit against Harris for allegedly sexually abusing them. The firm representing the twins, Manly, Stewart & Finaldi, confirmed that one of the twins is the alleged victim in the criminal accusation. The civil suit, filed on Monday in Texas, states that the twins were both competitive cheerleaders who had met Harris in 2018 when they were 13. The suit claims that Harris groomed the two for abuse by leveraging his prominence in the cheerleading community.
In a statement to CNN on Thursday, a Netflix spokesperson assured the public that, “like everyone we are shocked by this news. Any abuse of minors is a terrible crime and we respect the legal process.” On Friday, Harris’ former Cheer teammates spoke out after his arrest by releasing statements on their respective social media accounts.
On Twitter, La’Darius Marshall said that he was a victim of sexual abuse as a child and knows “all too well the pain of experiencing this type of abuse and the difficulties it can create for life after such trauma.” On Instagram, Marshall wrote that he was “broken to pieces” over the allegations against Harris and believes that, “this will not be acceptable behavior now or later in the future, we must do better … We must protect our children. I pray for healing for everyone involved.”
Gabi Butler said that she was “shocked, dismayed and deeply saddened by the recent news” concerning Harris. Echoing Marshall’s statement, Butler wrote that “the protection of children is more important than ever in today’s world and [I] absolutely do not condone any actions that bring harm to a child.” Monica Aldama, the head coach of Cheer’s Navarro College cheerleading squad, expressed her own devastation “by this shocking, unexpected news” on Instagram. Aldama pleaded her followers to “please respect our privacy as our family mourns during this heartbreaking time.”
A press release from the U.S. Attorney’s office stated that the “production of child pornography is punishable by a minimum sentence of 15 years in prison and a maximum of 30 years.” Harris’ attorney is currently seeking his client’s release because he is “asthmatic” and at risk for contracting Covid-19.