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Cheer Alum Jerry Harris Sentenced to 12 Years in Prison in Child Pornography Case

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The former star of Netflix’s hit docu-series Cheer Jerry Harris has been sentenced to 12 years in federal prison for soliciting sex from minors and pressuring young boys to send him nude photos via social media. USA Today reports that the sentence comes following an almost seven-hour hearing Wednesday, which included victim impact statements detailing the lasting effects of Harris’ abuse.

Harris, a former Navarro cheerleader and fan favorite from the first season of Cheer, was arrested in September 2020 on charges of sexually assaulting a 15-year-old during a cheer competition and paying a 17-year-old to send him explicit content via Snapchat. Harris, who pleaded guilty in February, also admitted to similar conduct involving other minors; prosecutors agreed to dismiss those charges as part of Harris’ plea agreement.

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Harris’ attorneys initially argued for a six-year sentence for the former Navarro cheerleader, citing court documents that note that Harris had a difficult childhood and a “warped” view of relationships because he had been sexually assaulted himself at age 13 by a trusted adult in the cheerleading community.

Related: Cheer Season 2 Trailer Reveals January Premiere Date

Assistant U.S. Attorney Kelly Guzman, who asked for a 15-year-sentence for Harris, acknowledged his past abuse but remained adamant that it was “not a blank check to commit sex offenses against minors.”

“Harris used his celebrity and wealth to continue his exploitation of children,” Guzman continued in her sentencing memorandum. “Expanding the tools available to him to manipulate them into gratifying his seemingly insatiable sexual desires.”

In a statement shared by Harris’ attorney Todd Pugh, Harris apologized to the young victims who were in attendance at the hearing. “I regret my decisions and I am deeply sorry. All I can do going forward is to try and do better and be a better person,” Harris said, referring to his actions as “wrong and selfish.” He continued, “I do not deserve forgiveness, but I do pray that one day you might find it in your hearts.”

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