Cheer season 2: Where is Jerry Harris now? Netflix series addresses child pornography charges
12 January 2022, 13:20 | Updated: 13 January 2022, 09:14
Cheerleader and former Cheer star Jerry Harris, who was arrested on child pornography charges, is currently awaiting trial in Chicago's Metropolitan Correctional Center.
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[WARNING: This article contains detailed accounts of sexual abuse and misconduct. This could be triggering for some readers.]
Cheer took Netflix by storm back in January 2020, and just over two years later, it's back for another season.
The Netflix documentary series followed the lives of the Navarro College cheerleading team, and their coach Monica Aldama, in the build-up to the national cheerleading championships in Daytona, Florida. The show became a massive success and turned the cast, including Gabi Butler, La'Darius Marshall, Lexi Brumback and Morgan Simianer, into overnight stars.
Another breakout star from Cheer was 22-year-old Jerry Harris, whose joyful positivity and inspiring 'mat talk' made him a fan favourite. In September 2020, Jerry was arrested on child pornography charges and now faces a minimum of 15 years in federal prison if convicted.
Cheer season 2 addresses Jerry's charges and arrest in detail. Episode 5 features interviews with Coach Monica, the Navarro cheer team, the two teenage boys who accused Jerry of sexual abuse and their mother. (The contents of that episode might be triggering for some viewers.)
Here's everything you need to know about Jerry Harris' arrest, the charges against him, where he is now and how Cheer season 2 addresses the situation.
Why was Jerry Harris arrested? What are the charges against him?
In September 2020, Jerry Harris was sued by twin brothers Sam and Charlie, then aged 14 years old, who accused Harris of soliciting sexually explicit photos and videos over social media, and at cheer competitions. According to a report from USA Today, the boys explained that it started when they were 13 and Harris was 19, and that it continued for more than a year.
Harris was then arrested and charged with production of child pornography.
The New York Times reports that Harris allegedly acknowledged, in a voluntary interview with the FBI, that "he had exchanged sexually explicit photos on Snapchat with at least 10 to 15 people he knew were minors; had sex with a 15-year-old at a cheerleading competition in 2019; and paid a 17-year-old to send him nude photos."
In December 2020, Jerry was further charged with "seven different crimes relating to five minors". According to NBC Chicago's report, federal prosecutors charged Harris with four counts of knowingly 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 for the purpose of transmitting a live visual depiction of such conduct."
Harris pleaded not guilty to those seven charges.
Will Jerry Harris go to prison?
At the start of Cheer season 2, a news report says, "Harris is facing a mandatory minimum 15-year sentence if convicted." According to The New York Times, if Harris is convicted, he could face anywhere between 15 to 30 years in federal prison.
Where is Jerry Harris now?
Harris is currently being held without bond at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Chicago. He's been in custody since his September 2020 arrest. No date has been confirmed for his trial just yet.
According to USA Today reporter Tricia L. Nadolny, monitored house arrest was reportedly considered for Jerry while he awaited his trial but “prosecutors strongly objected to that plan.”
In court documents reported by People, prosecutors claim that Harris admitted to victimising "at least 5 to 10 children who are all forever damaged" and should be detained pending trial. The document reads: "Harris exhibits all the signs of a serial child predator and unless and until he receives significant mental health sex offender treatment, he will remain a danger to any child he encounters, either online or in person."
How does Cheer season 2 address Jerry Harris' charges?
In episode 5 of Cheer season 2, the charges against Harris are discussed in detail. Cheer season 1 stars Gabi Butler, La'Darius Marshall and James Thomas also speak about the moment they found out about Jerry's arrest. Coach Monica then opened up that the team had a meeting the night news broke, and that it "felt like a funeral".
The show also features interviews with twins Sam and Charlie, and their mother Kristen. Speaking to the camera, Charlie opens up about the first time Jerry messaged him: "One day in December 2018, so this was my first cheer season, he messaged me on my private Instagram account, on his private Instagram account, basically just saying 'Hey.' And he asked how old I was and I told him I was 13. And then after that right off the bat he asked me, 'can I have butt pics?', or 'can you send butt pics?'"
Charlie then goes on to explain that when the two first met in person in 2019 at a cheer competition, Jerry harassed him, cornered him in a bathroom stall and begged him to have sex with him. Charlie added that he said no multiple times. Sam then opened up that Jerry also started messaging him shortly after.
The brothers explained that they felt ashamed, and that they couldn't tell anyone about it or report it because of Jerry's popularity in the cheer community. The two believed they would lose all of their cheer friends.
Sam and Charlie's mother Kristen said she later sat down with Charlie and discovered messages and sexually explicit videos from Jerry on Charlie's Snapchat. Later, Kristen, alongside Charlie and Sam, reported Jerry's actions to various cheerleading organisations. She also filed a report on the FBI website, and connected with USA Today investigative reporters Marisa Kwiatkowski and Tricia L. Nadolny, who published their report in September 2020.
The twins said they have no regrets about coming forward, which Charlie adding: “I want to be the start of a change in cheer."
Does Jerry Harris appear in Cheer season 2?
Jerry appears briefly in footage prior to his arrest and in clips from his own social media videos in Cheer season 2.
In the press notes for the new season, director and executive producer Greg Whitely revealed that Jerry's lawyers prevented any contact with him since his arrest. His legal team were also approached a number of times, but would not agreed to be interviewed on camera.