Cheer star Jerry Harris has been arrested by the FBI and charged with one count of producing child pornography on Thursday, September 17. According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the 21-year-old was "allegedly enticing an underage boy to produce sexually explicit videos and photos of himself."
The cheerleader "contacted the underage boy on a social media application," stated the criminal complaint, which was filed in the U.S. District Court in Chicago. During their online exchange, the victim told Harris that he was only 13 years old. Harris is scheduled to make a court appearance at 2 p.m. CDT before U.S. Magistrate Judge M. David Weisman in Chicago. If convicted, Harris could serve a minimum sentence of 15 years in prison and a maximum of 30 years.
On Monday, September 14, the FBI searched Harris’ Naperville, Illinois, home as part of the investigation. On Thursday, FBI special agent Siobhan Johnson said the agency was "conducting authorized law enforcement activity in Naperville, Illinois, and other Chicago suburbs this morning."
Earlier this week, USA Today reported that 14-year-old twin brothers from Texas accused Harris of abuse. Charlie and Sam said they were 13 years old when they met Harris, and according to screenshots, which were obtained by USA Today, Harris responded to a photo of Charlie stretching his leg. "Do it naked and take a video and show me," Harris allegedly wrote. Harris is also accused of asking one of the brothers to have sex with him at two cheerleading competitions, which took place in 2019.
"We are grateful that the U.S. Attorney and the FBI have taken swift action to protect children by investigating, arresting and charging Jerry Harris," Attorney Sarah Klein, who represents the family, said in a statement. "This was made possible because our clients’ mother had the courage to report Harris to the FBI as well as the Fort Worth Police Department and provided evidentiary proof of the manipulation, sexual harassment, abuse, and exploitation that her sons had suffered."
However, a spokesperson for Harris told CNN that his client was not involved with the two boys. "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," they said.
The athlete became popular after Cheer debuted on Netflix in 2020. The documentary gave viewers a glimpse into how the cheerleading squad at Navarro College tried to win the national title. Harris — who was known for his upbeat attitude — quickly gained a big following on social media — especially after he interviewed big A-listers on the Oscars red carpet earlier this year.