CHICAGO — Editor's note: Above video originally aired in September 2020
Jerry Harris, a former star of the Netflix cheerleading reality series Cheer, has reversed course and has now pleaded guilty to felony child pornography and child sex charges in federal court.
The 22-year-old Harris entered his plea on Thursday to charges of receiving child pornography and traveling with the intent to engage in illicit sexual conduct.
Attorneys representing two victims of alleged child sexual exploitation and abuse by Harris released a statement on his guilty pleas.
"We are grateful that the U.S. Attorney and the FBI investigated this case, located additional victims and took action," attorney Sarah Klein said. "Now, Jerry Harris’ guilt has been firmly established. This was made possible because our clients’ mother, Kristen, 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.
"We now 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."
Harris could face decades in federal prison when he returns to court on June 28 for sentencing.
"In an effort to put a stop to a serial predator and avert harm to other children, my sons took the brave step of speaking publicly about the sexual abuse they suffered at the hands of Jerry Harris," said Kristen, mother of Harris’ victims. "Harris’ admission of guilt today gives me hope that the pain and grief that my sons have suffered as a result of speaking up has not been in vain. I will continue my mission to hold Jerry Harris and his enablers fully accountable both in the courts of law and the court of public opinion."
In December 2020, Harris pleaded not guilty to charges that he solicited sex from minors at cheerleading competitions and convinced teen boys to send him obscene photos and videos of themselves.
According to a complaint filed at the time, prosecutors said that Harris admitted to the acts with which he was charged.
Harris remains in federal custody.
Harris rose to public acclaim as the breakout star of the Netflix-produced, Emmy-winning docuseries Cheer, which follows the exploits and accomplishments of a cheerleading team from Navarro College in Corsicana, Texas.
Season 2 of the show premiered Jan. 12, 2022, and featured the arrest and indictment of Harris.