‘Cheer’ star Jerry Harris sentenced to 12 years in prison

Old Netflix Cheer star of the documentary series Jerry Harris was sentenced to 12 years in prison and eight years of probation after prison. Cheer first aired on Netflix in 2020, focusing on the Navarro College Bulldogs cheer squad from Corsicana, Texas, which was one of the highest-ranked cheerleading squads in the world thanks to their coach, Monica Aldama. The series was very intense and took you on the journey of watching these young adults devote their bodies to cheerleading.

Many, myself included, were sucked into the story and forced into it, even though there had been messy racial issues from the start. Of the many personalities who shone, Jerry Harris became one of the most popular with his positivity and great “mat-talk” (encouraging other players). That was shattered in early 2020 when a mother from Texas came forward and alleged that her twin sons, now 16, had been abused by Harris.

The twins were featured in the second season of Cheer, which was forced to fix the problem. Not only was this devastating for the victims, but also for the teammates who were friends of Harris, some of whom were survivors of childhood sexual abuse themselves. Harris pleaded guilty, in February 2022, “to charges of child pornography and traveling across state lines for the purpose of having sex with a child.”

Harris’ lawyer tried to get his client a six-year prison sentence and referred to Harris’ own sexual assault when he was 13, saying it gave him a “distorted view of relationships”. Newsweek reports that “over 80 character references were submitted, including from his teammates and Cheer coach, Monica Aldama”.

Yesterday Harris was sentenced to 12 years in prison and eight years of probation after prison. U.S. District Judge Manish Shah wrote, “Harris used his fame and wealth to continue his exploitation of children, expanding the tools at his disposal to manipulate them to satisfy his seemingly insatiable sexual desires.”

The judge called the sentence “an expression of the seriousness of your crimes, tempered by some hope that all is not lost for you or your victims, and that in the future a healing may occur”.

Through his attorney, Harris said: ‘I regret my decisions and am deeply sorry. All I can do to move forward is try to do better and be a better person. I don’t deserve forgiveness, but I pray that one day you can find it in your hearts.

(Going through Newsweekfeatured image: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)

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