Jerry Harris was undoubtedly the biggest breakout star of Cheer season 1. The 28-year-old became a global star after the show’s debut in 2020. Jerry received top endorsement deals and was even the red carpet correspondent for Ellen in 2020.
It all came crashing down in September 2020 when Jerry was arrested on child pornography charges. This came right at the time when Cheer season 2 began to film again amid the COVID-19 pandemic. So, where is Jerry now? What are the allegations against him? How did his teammates react? Here’s everything we know about Jerry’s case and what was said in Cheer season 2, which debuted January 12 on Netflix.
What Happened To Jerry Harris?
Jerry was arrested in September 2020 by the FBI in Naperville, Illinois, after he was investigated for allegedly soliciting photos and sex from minors. Two teenage twins came forward and claimed they were harassed by Jerry online and at cheer competitions when they were 13 and Jerry was 19.
Following his arrest, Jerry’s attorney initially released the following statement: “(We) categorically dispute the claims made against Jerry Harris, which are alleged to have occurred when he was a teenager. We are confident that when the investigation is completed, the true facts will be revealed.”
The twins, Charlie and Sam, sit down in episode 5 of Cheer and explain their accounts of what happened with Jerry. Charlie admits that Jerry first contacted him in 2018. Jerry allegedly messaged Charlie on his private Instagram account and asked how old he was. Charlie was 13 at the time and claimed that “right off the bat” Jerry asked about Charlie sending him “butt pics.”
Charlie admits that he did send Jerry photos. “I was willing to do that and was kind of blindsided by his notoriety at that time,” Charlie says. His twin brother, Sam, found out about what was happening months later. Charlie and Jerry met for the first time at a cheer competition in 2019.
“He texted me, like, while I was in the bathroom because it was us, and then there was, like, another person in there and he was like, ‘Do you want to have sex?’ And I was like, ‘No. I do not.’ And he was like, ‘What about oral sex?’ And I said, ‘No. I’m not comfortable with that either,'” Charlie claims.
When the other person left, Charlie alleges Jerry “cornered me into the bathroom stall, and basically was just, like, begging me, just continually pleading with me to just, like, have sex with him. I was basically just like, ‘No. I really just do not feel comfortable with it.'”
Soon, Jerry allegedly began messaging Sam as well. Charlie and Sam’s mom, Kristen, learned what was going with her sons after seeing a text from Jerry on Charlie’s phone. Charlie later showed his mother a Snapchat video of a man “masturbating” that he claimed was Jerry.
In May 2020, Kristen spoke with Angela Rogers, the co-owner of Cheer Athletics Plano location, the all-star gym Jerry was cheering for at the time, about her concerns. “She was very skeptical of what I was telling her,” Kristen says. Kristen then made a report on the USASF [US All Star Federation] website and filed another report 8 or 9 weeks later.
By August 2020, nothing had happened. Kristen reveals she decided to file a report on the FBI website. She also shared her story with USA Today. Jerry was arrested weeks later.
In December 2020, prosecutors filed additional charges against Jerry, including seven counts regarding five minors. According to USA Today, the Cheer star was “charged with receiving and attempting to receive child pornography and four counts of using, persuading, inducing, and enticing a minor ‘to engage in sexually explicit conduct for the purpose of producing a visual depiction of such conduct, and … transmitting a live visual depiction of such conduct.'” The acts allegedly took place in Naperville and Corsicana, Texas.
Jerry was also charged with one count of using the internet in Orlando, Florida, to “persuade, induce, and entice” one of the minors to participate in sexual activity. Jerry allegedly traveled from Texas to Florida “for the purpose of engaging in illicit sexual conduct … with intent to engage in a sexual act with Minor 5 who was 15 years old.” At the time, Jerry was over 18.
Jerry allegedly said in an interview with federal agents that he had “solicited and received nude pictures from 10 to 15 others who he knew were minors,” according to NBC News. In a court document, Jerry also allegedly confessed to having oral and anal sex with a 15-year-old in the summer of 2018.
Where Is Jerry Harris Now?
Jerry is currently being held at the Metroplication Correctional Center in Chicago. He’s been there ever since his arrest in September 2020 and is still awaiting trial. If convicted, he faces a mandatory minimum 15-year sentence.
At Jerry’s bail hearing after his arrest, his attorney argued for his release pending trial. His attorney had a plan for Jerry to be under house arrest and be supervised by a group of mothers from the cheer world. Prosecutors objected to that plan and said Jerry “would harm others or could harm others” if released. They had evidence that Jerry ditched his phone when he learned he might be under investigation, and later got a new phone and used it to contact minors. The judge decided that Jerry should remain incarcerated until his trial.
(Note: Jerry’s legal team was approached by Cheer a number of times but would not agree to be interviewed on camera.)
How Did The ‘Cheer’ Cast React To His Arrest?
Gabi Butler admits that her “heart completely sank” when she learned the news of Jerry’s arrest. “I felt like someone had just, like, died,” she says. Despite the charges against him, Gabi isn’t going to cut Jerry out of her life. “I cannot and I won’t,” she says. “I cannot turn my back on him because he was there when I needed it.” She stresses that does not “agree with what he was accused of or condone it at all and it is very unfortunate, and it breaks my heart.”
La’Darius Marshall reveals he was scrolling through Twitter when he learned the news. He admits that he initially thought the news wasn’t true. He later says, “I don’t care how famous you are, how much money you got, how much people love you. That don’t give you the right to do stuff like this, especially when one of your best friends you know went something like that.”
James Thomas reveals that he “just sunk into a hole and cried.” He adds, “He never said anything about this stuff to me.”
Monica Aldama, the head coach of the co-ed cheerleading team at Navarro College, was on stage at Dancing With the Stars in dress rehearsal for the first live show when an executive producer asked if she’d seen the news. Monica cries in front of the Cheer cameras and admits she didn’t want to read the news. “We had a team meeting that night, and I… it really felt like a funeral and I’ve never seen the kids cry so hard,” Monica says through tears. “It was just an awful situation. It was a really tough week because I wasn’t here.”
After Monica got back to Texas, she admits she was “really struggling mentally because I love Jerry like my own child.” She reveals that Jerry wrote her a letter from prison, and she has yet to write him back. “I wanna be supportive yet I’m so disappointed. And his letter was so optimistic. There was not one negative thing in this letter. He said he hopes to one day be a motivational speaker,” Monica says. “I just was really caught off guard at the hope he had for the future.”