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'Cheer' star Jerry Harris sentenced to 12 years in prison for child pornography

Harris pleaded guilty in February to one count of receiving child pornography and one count of engaging in sexual acts with a minor, after being charged with a seven-count indictment.

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Katie Daviscourt Seattle WA
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Netflix "Cheer" star Jeremiah Harris has been sentenced to 12 years in federal prison after pleading guilty to child pornography and sex charges in February.

Assistant US Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois Joseph D. Fitzpatrick told CNN that Harris will be serving a 12-year federal prison sentence, followed by 8 years of court-supervised release.

Jeremiah "Jerry" Harris rose to fame after starring in the Netflix reality docuseries "Cheer," and shocked the nation when he was arrested and charged with possession of child pornography in Sept. 2020, days after he was under FBI investigation for soliciting sex from minors.

Following a plea agreement with the United States government, Harris pleaded guilty in February to one count of receiving child pornography and one count of engaging in sexual acts with a minor, after being charged with a seven-count indictment in the US District Court in northern Illinois in December 2020.

Harris pleaded guilty to two of the charges from that indictment, stating that he received child pornography and engaged in interstate travel to meet a 15-year-old boy with whom he engaged in sexual relations, according to court documents.

However, the star of the docuseries allegedly admitted to receiving sexually explicit images from "at least between 10 to 15 other individuals he knew were minors," the US Attorney's Office in Chicago said in a criminal complaint.

Harris was slapped with a $1 million lawsuit from twin brothers who claimed that he "groomed" them for sexual activities, Page Six reported.

The suit was filed in Texas court, accusing Harris of exploiting his "popularity and position of fame with young male cheer athletes" and demanding nude photos from the boys while molesting them.

The siblings, aged around 13 and 14 when Harris was 19-years-old at the time of the year-long abuse, are competitive cheerleaders from Texas and reportedly complied with their "mentor" on the cheer scene, court documents state.

In February 2019, Harris allegedly demanded oral sex from one of the children in a bathroom at the American Cheerleaders Association's national competition, but the victim refused. The criminal charge pertains to this brother's sexual abuse.

The behavior was uncovered by the boys' mother who found the X-rated messages on her sons' cell phones and social media, including photographic and video evidence of the exchanges.

Harris faced up to 50 years in prison after he pleaded guilty earlier this year.

"Jerry Harris' guilt has been firmly established," the Manly, Stewart & Finaldi law firm told The New York Post on Wednesday on behalf of the victims, twin boys named Charlie and Sam, and their family.

"The sentence he received reflects the severity of his crimes and the lifetime of pain his victims will suffer. This was made possible because our clients' mother, Kristen, initially had the courage to report Harris to the FBI and provided evidentiary proof of the manipulation, sexual harassment, abuse, and exploitation that her sons had suffered," the attorney said in a statement.

"The US Attorney's office deserves credit for their diligent and effective prosecution," he continued.

In 2020, Harris filmed a video on his Instagram account with Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, encouraging young black voters to turn out Election Day.

"Together we have the power to make a real change!" Harris told his 1.2 million followers. Harris and Biden engaged in Instagram lives as well, conservative commentator Saagar Enjeti reported.

Harris was arrested shortly after being featured.

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