Editor’s note: This story contains alleged accounts of sexual assault. If you or someone you know is a survivor of sexual assault, contact the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-4673 or at https://www.rainn.org
Jerry Harris, a former star of the Netflix documentary series “Cheer,” was sentenced to 12 years in prison for soliciting sex from minors and forcing young boys to send him nude pictures and videos, USA Today reports.
Harris was originally arrested in September of 2020 and pleaded guilty in February to two charges, one for sexual assault of a 15-year-old boy in the bathroom of a cheer competition and one for paying a 17-year-old boy to send him “sexually explicit photos and videos” on Snapchat. A plea agreement also included prosecutors dismissing charges involving other minors.
“Harris used his celebrity and wealth to continue his exploitation of children, expanding the tools available to him to manipulate them into gratifying his seemingly insatiable sexual desires,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Kelly Guzman wrote in a sentencing memorandum, via USA Today.
According to court documents, Harris’s lawyers wanted a six-year sentence, arguing that Harris’s understanding of relationships was shaped by being sexually assaulted himself as a 13-year old.
“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,” Harris’s lawyers wrote, via Yahoo’s Taryn Rider.
However, prosecutors said that was “not a blank check to commit sex offenses against minors.”
At the time of the arrest, Harris had multiple sponsorship deals and had appeared on the Ellen Degeneres Show working the red carpet. “Cheer”, a series that follows the highly competitive Navarro College cheerleading team, addressed his arrest in Season 2.