Jerry Harris, a breakout star on the Emmy-winning Netflix docuseries Cheer was arrested and charged with producing child pornography in U.S. District Court in Chicago Thursday.
Harris, 21, is accused of “enticing an underage boy to produce sexually explicit videos and photos of himself.”
According to court records, Harris, who did not enter a plea Thursday, admitted to federal agents that he solicited and received explicit messages on Snapchat from ten to 15 people he knew to be minors, had sex with a 15-year-old at a 2019 cheerleading competition, and paid a 17-year-old for nude photos, USA Today reports.
Seeking to keep Harris detained, prosecutor Christopher Parente said Harris had committed “a crime of violence” and was a danger to the community. The judge ordered Harris to remain in custody until a Monday morning hearing, when the court will consider if can be released on bond.
On Monday, the mother of 14-year-old twin boys who claim Harris had been soliciting them online and at cheerleading competitions starting when they were 13 filed a lawsuit against Harris. A rep for Harris said at the time, “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.”
“We are grateful that the U.S. Attorney and the FBI have taken swift action to protect children by investigating, arresting and charging Jerry Harris,” the family’s attorney, Sarah Klein, said in a statement. “This was made possible because our clients’ mother had the courage to report Harris to the FBI as well as the Fort Worth Police Department and provided evidentiary proof of the manipulation, sexual harassment, abuse, and exploitation that her sons had suffered.”
If convicted, Harris faces 15 to 30 years in federal prison.
Cheer has already won two Emmys this year and is up for Outstanding Unstructured Reality program at Saturday’s virtual Creative Arts Emmy Awards.
Coach Monica Aldama said in an Instagram post that her “heart has been shattered into a million pieces” by the news.
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In a statement to CNN, a Netflix spokesperson said, “Like everyone we are shocked by this news. Any abuse of minors is a terrible crime and we respect the legal process.”