Jerry Harris plead guilty to two out of seven child pornography and sexual abuse charges on Thursday, February 10: crossing state lines for the purpose of engaging in an illicit sexual act with a minor under the age of 15 and receiving child pornography, PEOPLE magazine reports. The other charges against the 22-year-old star of Netflix docuseries Cheer were dropped as part of a plea agreement, the The New York Times also reported.
His sentencing is scheduled for June 28, 2022. In 2020, when Jerry was arrested and charged, he initially plead not guilty — but his defense team says he changed his plea “because he wishes to take responsibility for his actions and publicly convey his remorse for the harm he has caused the victims in this case,” per PEOPLE. “Jerry is a 22-year-old young man whose story can only be understood though the lens of the extreme poverty, sexual abuse, and neglect of his childhood,” the statement also read.
“Jerry was himself exploited, manipulated, and sexually abused as a child within the cheer community in a way that perversely made him believe that this sexual conduct was somehow normal when it was not,” his legal team added. HollywoodLife has also reached out for a statement.
In 2020, Jerry was sued by two teen siblings, aged 13, who alleged that the star solicited both sex and nude photos. He was arrested just days later on suspicion of producing child porn — followed by a seven count indictment alleging acts in Texas, Illinois and Florida involving underage minors.
“Jerry Harris was arrested this morning,” Joseph D. Fitzpatrick, Assistant U.S. Attorney of The Northern District of Illinois, confirmed to HollywoodLife about the Cheer star in 2020. “He’s charged with production of child pornography, a federal felony. He’s scheduled to appear in federal court in Chicago this afternoon.” His arrest took place three days after the FBI raided his home in Naperville, Illinois where they were investigating allegations that he solicited sexually explicit photos and sex from minors.
Learn more about Jerry here.
He’s from Illinois
Jerry (real name Jeremiah Harris) was born on July 14, 1999 and grew up in Bolingbroke, Illinois, where he lost his mother Lizzie Bowman to cancer at the age of 16. Her death was a big part of his storyline on the six-part Netflix series which tugged at the heart of its millions of viewers.
His breakout role was on ‘Cheer’
He was one of the breakout stars of the Emmy-winning show due to his quirky and over the top personality that gelled well with his teammates and coach Monica Aldama. His popularity was so big that Ellen DeGeneres had him work the 2020 Academy Awards red carpet where he chatted with some of the biggest stars in the world including Brad Pitt.
After his arrest, Netflix issued a statement. “Like everyone we are shocked by this news. Any abuse of minors is a terrible crime and we respect the legal process,” the streaming platform said to HollywoodLife.
One of his final Instagram posts was of him and Cheer costars Gabi Butler and La’Darius Marshall. “Family isn’t always blood. It’s the people in your life who want you in theirs,” he captioned. “The ones who accept you for who you are. The ones who would do anything to see you smile, and who love you no matter what.”
He’s also worked with Todrick Hall
Jerry guest starred in Todrick Hall’s cheerleading themed song “Mas(kot)” back in April months before his scandal erupted.
He’s had successful endorsement deals
He racked up over a million followers on Instagram shortly after the show became a massive hit. Not only that but Jerry also partnered with major brands like Panera Bread and recorded personal video messages on Cameo for $150 a pop.
He was a correspondent for Ellen DeGeneres
In 2020, he got the coveted role of being an Oscars correspondent for Ellen DeGeneres just weeks after he and his co-stars appeared on the series. During the gig, he met several major stars including Brad Pitt, Hailey Bieber and Billie Eilish.