UPDATE: According to a U.S. Department of Justice spokesperson, Jerry Harris pleaded not guilty to seven sex crimes during a virtual court appearance on Thursday, Dec. 17.
To learn more about the seven charges, continue reading below.
Federal prosecutors have filed additional charges against Cheer star Jerry Harris, adding to a previous felony charge of production of child pornography.
In a new seven-count indictment filed on Thursday, Dec. 10, the Netflix docu-series cast member, full name Jeremiah Harris, was charged with sex crimes allegedly involving five minors. He faces 15 to 30 years in federal prison if convicted. Harris, 21, has remained behind bars in Chicago since his arrest in September.
Harris was charged with receiving and attempting to receive child pornography and four counts of using, persuading, inducing, and enticing a minor “to engage in sexually explicit conduct” for the purpose of producing child pornography. The criminal acts allegedly took place between December 2018 and this past August in Harris’ hometown of Naperville, Ill.—a suburb of Chicago, and Corsicana, Texas—home of Navarro College, where Harris was a student and member of the school’s cheerleading team, which was featured in Netflix’s Cheer.
The new indictment also states that when Harris was 19, he allegedly traveled across state lines, from Texas to Florida, in May 2019 “for the purpose of engaging in illicit sexual conduct” and “with intent to engage in a sexual act” with a 15-year-old. Harris was also accused of using the internet in Orlando, Fla., to “persuade, induce, and entice” one of the minors to “engage in sexual activity,” the documents state.
“We are grateful that the U.S. Attorney and the FBI have continued to investigate this case, locate additional victims and take action,” a lawyer for the Texas brothers, two of the victims, said in a statement. “This was made possible because our clients’ mother 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 statement added, “We urge the authorities to undertake a thorough investigation of the United States All Star Federation, Varsity Spirit, and Cheer Athletics to determine which of their executives, employees, and representatives could have stopped Harris’ abuse and failed to do so.”
After his arrest in September, Harris was charged with one count of one count of sexual exploitation of children while being accused of enticing a 13-year-old boy to produce sexually explicit videos and photos of himself. According to federal court records submitted at the time, Harris admitted to law enforcement agents in a voluntary interview that he solicited and received explicit photos and videos on Snapchat from at least 10 to 15 people he knew were minors and paid a 17-year-old in exchange for nude photos.
He also allegedly told authorities in the interview that he had sex with a 15-year-old at a cheerleading competition in 2019. Thursday’s indictment does not specifically charge Harris with the sexual assault of the 15-year-old.
Three days prior to his arrest, the FBI raided Harris’ home while investigating allegations that he asked for sex and nude photos from twin underage boys, now 14, who filed a lawsuit against him in Texas, USA Today had reported. The alleged victims accused him of soliciting sex, sending them sexually explicit messages and asking them to send nude photos of themselves when they were 13. Records show that the allegations against Harris have been reported to at least four other law enforcement agencies in Texas and Florida, USA Today reported.
At the time, Harris’ spokesperson told E! News in response to the accusations against the Cheer star, “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.”