Cheer star Jerry Harris has been arrested on a federal child pornography charge. The 21-year-old was taken into police custody in Naperville, Illinois on Thursday following an FBI investigation. Earlier this week, Harris vehemently denied claims that he had solicited sex and nude photos from minors. He is accused of repeatedly enticing an underage boy on social media to produce sexually explicit videos and photographs of himself and send them to Harris.
According to a criminal complaint filed in the US District Court in Chicago, the minor allegedly informed Harris during their initial online encounter that he was 13 years old. Harris – full name Jeremiah Harris – is scheduled to make an initial court appearance later today before the US Magistrate Judge M David Weisman in Chicago. He was arrested on one count of producing child pornography and was said to have been 19 at the time of the offence.
Production of child pornography is punishable by a minimum sentence of 15 years in prison and a maximum of 30 years. The FBI did not mention Harris by name when approached by Metro.co.uk, but stated: ‘The FBI was conducting court-authorised law enforcement activity in Naperville, IL and Crystal Lake, IL this morning. There is no further information at this time.’ Harris’ spokesperson released a statement on Monday denying the allegations against the Netflix star, and said: ‘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.’ Variety previously reported that the investigation was based on allegations that were reported to the police by Varsity, a company involved in the cheerleading industry.
In letters to police dated August 1, Burton Brillhart, Varsity’s chief legal officer, reportedly said that he had learned of ‘inappropriate sexual conduct’ allegations against Harris. According to USA Today, Brillhart wrote in the letter: ‘As a result of the recent allegation, we have barred this person from having any affiliation with Varsity Brands or any of its subsidiaries or affiliates, now and in the future.’ It has also been claimed that the letters included two screenshots of images – one allegedly was taken from Snapchat which appears to be the upper part of Harris’ face along with the message: ‘Would you ever want to f***.’ The second image allegedly consisted of text messages screenshot from May 2 2019. It shows a contact saved as ‘Jerry Harris’ writing: ‘Hey btw I found a place for us to do stuff it’s actually pretty good haha.’ Harris rose to fame after starring in Netflix series Cheer, an American docuseries which first aired on Netflix in January 2020.