Jerry Harris, the Navarro College cheerleader who rose to fame on the popular Netflix docu-series Cheer and covered the Oscars red carpet for The Ellen Degeneres Show, has been arrested on child pornography charges, according to the Chicago Tribune. Here’s what we know.
What are the charges? Following a search of his home in Naperville Illinois on Monday, September 14, the 21-year-old was arrested on September 17 on one charge of production of child pornography. He’s accused of “soliciting pornographic videos and images of minors and soliciting sex from a 13-year-old victim at cheerleading competitions,” per the Tribune.
If convicted, the production of child pornography carries a sentencing minimum of 15 years in prison.
Earlier this week, a lawsuit in Texas was filed against Harris, per USA Today. “The FBI is conducting court-authorized law enforcement activity in the area,” Siobhan Johnson, FBI special agent and public affairs officer, told USA Today at the time, without further comment.
The criminal investigation is reportedly based on allegations brought by 14-year-old twin brothers who spoke with USA Today about “a pattern of harassment, both online and at cheer competitions, that started when they were 13 and Harris was 19.”
Varsity Spirit, the leading cheerleading organization, sent letters to Texas and Florida police. On August 1, the company notified police regarding allegations of “inappropriate sexual contact by a person who was previously employed at Varsity Spirit.”
On Monday, September 14, Varsity spokeswoman Jackie Kennedy said the company “can’t comment on an active law enforcement investigation; we continue to cooperate with authorities in their inquiries on this matter.”
A spokesperson for Harris originally denied the allegations in a statement to Variety. “We categorically dispute the claims made against Jerry Harris, which are alleged to have occurred when he was a teenager,” the statement read on September 14. “We are confident that when the investigation is completed the true facts will be revealed.”
Netflix has not released an official statement.
This post will be updated as more information becomes available.