Notable actor Jerry Harris, who skyrocketed to fame after his appearance in Netflix’s “Cheer” docuseries, is facing charges related to child pornography. The Cook County native is alleged to have solicited sexual pictures and videos from boys as young as 13 years old at cheerleading competitions.
Harris has been on talk shows, the Oscars, and has more than 1 million followers on Instagram.
Harris Arrested by the FBI
In a criminal complaint filed by the FBI, Harris is charged with one count of producing child pornography. Since he has been arrested by the FBI, he will face federal charges on this count meaning that a conviction would automatically trigger a mandatory 15-year prison sentence.
Harris made his first court appearance recently. At his bond hearing, the federal prosecutors argued that Harris should be denied bond because he is a danger to the community and his crimes involve violence against children. Defense attorneys for Harris said that he should be released from jail because he suffers from asthma and COVID-19 could cost him his life. Another hearing is scheduled for Monday.
Civil Lawsuit Filed in Texas
Two Texas teenagers are accusing Harris of sexual harassment and sexual exploitation and the criminal charges filed by the FBI appear to be a response to this. Harris, through a spokesperson, has categorically denied the charges.
The FBI raided Harris’s home in Naperville. It is unclear, as of yet, whether or not they found any evidence linking Harris to a video found on his property. Harris remains confident that once the investigation is completed, the charges will be dropped.
The FBI announced that their investigation is ongoing, and are reaching out to other potential victims for information.
The alleged victim’s parent discovered sexually explicit photos of her son on his cellphone prompting her to question him about it. The boy told his parents that Harris had solicited oral sex in a bathroom at a cheerleading competition.
Harris first contacted the boy over Snapchat according to the charges. Police allege that he solicited sexual images and videos over the course of the next 15 months. The police say that the boy informed Harris that he was 13 years old, which is an element of the crime for which they are seeking charges. The boy told his parent that Harris had sought him out at a cheerleading competition for the purposes of sexual intercourse. The boy’s parent immediately called the police.
Without video, it feels like this case is doomed. While false rape accusations are quite rare, when they do happen, it is largely because the alleged victim feels like they are in trouble for what they have done. Police will need all of the Snapchat conversations to prove Harris guilty. The word of a boy who got in trouble with his parents will not be enough.
Talk to a Chicago Criminal Defense Attorney
If you are facing federal charges, you should be aware that there are probably mandatory minimum sentences that may be enforced if you are convicted. You need an attorney who has experience arguing cases in federal court. Call David Freidberg today at (312) 560-7100 to learn more about how we can help.