Watch CBS News

"Cheer" star Jerry Harris charged with producing child pornography

Jerry Harris, one of the stars of the hit Netflix docuseries "Cheer," has been arrested on a federal child pornography charge, federal prosecutors said Thursday. The 21-year-old was charged with one count of producing child pornography — but the criminal complaint accuses him of requesting nude photographs and videos from several minors and repeatedly soliciting oral sex at cheerleading competitions. 

The majority of the complaint focuses on Harris' alleged contact with a boy identified as Minor 1. Minor 1 told investigators that Harris first contacted him on Instagram in 2018, adding that he immediately told Harris he was 13 years old. Harris then asked for "face" and "booty" pics, according to screenshots included in the complaint. 

Between December 2018 and March 2020, the minor said he sent Harris "over a dozen photographs and videos," including images of body parts. Harris allegedly sent nude photos and videos of himself masturbating. 

In one instance, after the minor posted a photograph of himself doing a cheerleading maneuver on social media, Harris allegedly sent him a message reading, "Do it naked and take a video and show me ;)." 

Jerry Harris
Jerry Harris John Locher / AP

The minor also told investigators that Harris followed him into the bathroom at a cheerleading competition in February 2019 and solicited oral sex, which he refused, according to the complaint. Three months later, Harris allegedly attempted to solicit oral sex again at another cheer competition, which the minor said he also refused. 

Harris allegedly blocked the minor on Snapchat, the app through which the images and videos had been sent, in February 2020. When the minor asked Harris why he had done so over text, Harris allegedly responded, "I'm sorry for what I've done in the past. I don't think it's a good idea that we be friends on snap."  

Federal agents raided Harris' home on Monday, CBS Chicago reported

In an interview with investigators that day, Harris allegedly admitted to many of the allegations included in the complaint, including that he asked the alleged victim for pictures of his "booty" after he said he was 13, repeatedly solicited nude photos, sent his own nude photos and attempted to solicit oral sex at cheerleading events in Texas and Florida. 

He also allegedly admitted to to soliciting and receiving child pornography on Snapchat from 10 to 15 other individuals he knew were minors, and engaging in sexual acts with a 15-year-old at a cheerleading event in 2019, who is identified in the complaint as Minor 3. 

The complaint also includes allegations from three other minors. Minor 2, identified as the twin brother of Minor 1, told investigators that Harris contacted him on Snapchat and requested "nude photos" and photos "naked with your butt," which he refused. Harris asked the minor "Would you like to ****" over Snapchat, according to a screenshot included in the complaint. 

Minor 4 alleged that Harris asked him for nude photos on Snapchat, even after he had told him that he was 17, and said he eventually offered him money. After sending photos and videos of himself and Minor 5 throughout the summer of 2020, Minor 4 received between $2,000 and $3,000, according to the complaint. Harris allegedly eventually offered the minor $500 to block him on Snapchat this August. 

Despite the allegations from the other minors, the charge stems from Harris' interaction with Minor 1, whose mother provided investigators with screenshots backing many of the alleged conversations. 

If convicted, Harris would face a minimum of 15 years in prison. Federal authorities said the investigation is ongoing, and encouraged other potential victims to come forward. 

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.