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‘Cheer’ star Jerry Harris arrested on child pornography charges

Harris is in federal custody, and the feds aim to keep him there, calling him a danger to the community.

Jerry Harris (R) attends the 2020 Vanity Fair Oscar Party hosted by Radhika Jones at Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts on February 09, 2020 in Beverly Hills, California.
Jerry Harris
Getty Images

One boy called Jerry Harris “relentless.”

He told authorities he met the star of the Netflix docuseries “Cheer” this summer — and that Harris spent three straight hours asking for naked photos of him after the boy told him he was 17. He said Harris finally offered him money, sending him $100 in “good faith” that allegedly turned into thousands.

Now the feds say Harris has admitted to having anal and oral sex with a 15-year-old at a cheer event last year, trying to persuade another minor to engage in oral sex with him at cheerleading events, soliciting a third minor for sex and seeking and receiving child pornography on Snapchat from 10 to 15 others he knew were underage.

The shocking alleged admissions by Harris, 21, are documented in a 28-page criminal complaint charging Harris with production of child pornography that was unsealed upon his arrest Thursday morning by the FBI. Harris is in federal custody, and prosecutors told a judge they aim to keep him there, calling him a danger to the community.

A federal magistrate judge in Chicago set a Monday detention hearing for Harris, who appeared briefly in a 17th-floor courtroom at the Dirksen Federal Courthouse wearing a red button-down shirt, grey pants and a blue mask. His legs were shackled during the hearing, and he gave short answers to the judge’s questions. When the hearing ended, deputies handcuffed Harris and led him from the courtroom as he scanned the gallery.

His attorney, Todd Pugh, declined to speak to reporters in the courthouse lobby as he left the building.

Harris’ arrest follows a USA Today report that federal investigators had executed a search warrant at a Naperville home Monday as part of an investigation of Harris.

The complaint traces the case against Harris to a discovery in February by the mother of 14-year-old twin boys who are competitive cheerleaders. The mother said she found a message purportedly from Harris on one boy’s cell phone. When she confronted him, he allegedly told her he’d been communicating with Harris on Snapchat for more than a year. He said Harris constantly asked for photos and videos from the boy, though the boy didn’t want to describe them to his mother, according to the feds.

The boy told authorities he’d first been contacted by Harris on Instagram in 2018. In that initial communication, Harris allegedly asked the boy’s age, and he told Harris he was 13.

The boy’s mother eventually learned of a “my eyes only” folder on Snapchat and demanded the boy show it to her, according to the complaint. That’s when she discovered a minute-long video of a male sitting on a bed masturbating, the feds say. Though the male’s face was not visible, the boy allegedly told her it was Harris.

The mother said she found 12 to 15 photos and videos of her son naked and stretching and doing cheer poses. When she asked her son why they were saved on his Snapchat account, the boy said Harris constantly asked for images of the boy, but the boy only wanted to do the poses once, so he saved them to resend to Harris in the future, according to the complaint.

The boy told authorities that on one occasion, after he posted a photo of himself doing a cheerleading maneuver called “the needle,” Harris contacted him on Snapchat and said, “Do it naked and take a video and show me.”

He also alleged that Harris twice tried to solicit him for sexual encounters during cheerleading events, once in February 2019 and once in May 2019. In texts provided by the boy’s mother, Harris allegedly wrote in May 2019, “I found a place for us to do stuff it’s actually pretty good haha.” The boy replied “i cant sorry,” according to the complaint.

On Feb. 7, Harris allegedly sent a text to the boy saying, “I don’t think we should be friends on snap” and “I’m sorry for what I’ve done in the past.”

The boy’s brother told authorities Harris was “touchy” and did “odd things,” and alleged that Harris once sent him a message asking, “Would you ever want to ****.”

Law enforcement interviewed two additional minors this week, including one who called Harris “relentless” in his pursuit of naked photographs. When that minor told the other about what was happening, the other agreed to provide photographs of himself to be sent to Harris. The feds say Harris wound up paying $2,000 to $3,000 to the minor he had been pursuing, until Harris sent the minor $500 in August to end the relationship and block Harris on Snapchat.

Warning: The court document below contains graphic descriptions.