Jerry Harris sentenced to 12 years in prison for sex crimes involving minors

A Chicago judge on Wednesday sentenced Jerry Harris, the Navarro College cheerleader who became a star of the Netflix documentary series...

A Chicago judge on Wednesday sentenced Jerry Harris, the Navarro College cheerleader who became a star of the Netflix documentary series “Cheer,” to 12 years in prison. guilty pleas to two of seven federal charges linked to sex crimes involving minors in February.

Mr Harris, 22, had reached a plea deal in February in which prosecutors agreed that after convicting both counts – the charges that he persuaded a 17-year-old to send him photos sexually explicit for money and had traveled to Florida ‘for the purpose of engaging in illicit sexual conduct’ with a 15-year-old – they would ask that the remaining charges be dropped. He had initially pleaded not guilty to seven counts in December 2020.

Mr Harris’ plea agreement said sentencing guidelines “could recommend 50 years in prison” for the offences, although Judge Manish S Shah noted he could rule differently. Judge Shah also ordered Mr Harris to serve eight years of probation after his prison sentence.

A lawyer for Mr. Harris, Todd Pugh, did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Wednesday.

In a memo filed before the hearing, prosecutors had asked Judge Shah to sentence Mr. Harris to 15 years in prison, arguing that Mr. Harris had taken advantage of “his status as a competitive cheerleader, his character on the social networks and possibly his fame and money, to persuade and incite his young victims to engage in sexually explicit behavior for or with him”.

Lawyers for Mr. Harris had requested a six-year prison sentence, followed by eight years of probation, arguing that Mr. Harris had himself been sexually abused as a child in the world of competitive cheerleading and therefore had a ” biased version of what he considered appropriate relationships.

The conviction caps a case that began almost two years ago in September 2020, when Mr Harris was arrested and charged with the production of child pornography, months after the release of “Cheer”, which follows a national champion cheerleading squad from a small-town Texas community college.

around the same time, he was prosecuted by teenage twin brothers who said he sent them sexually explicit messages, asked them for nude photos and solicited sex from them. (Mr Harris befriended the boys when they were 13 and he was 19, USA Today reported.)

During a voluntary interview with authorities in 2020, Mr Harris admitted to exchanging sexually explicit photos on Snapchat with at least 10 to 15 people he knew were underage and having sex with a 15-year-old girl during from a cheerleading pageant in 2019, according to a criminal complaint.

After federal agents interviewed other minors who said they had affairs with Mr. Harris, they filed further felony charges against him. The charges to which Mr. Harris did not plead guilty as part of the deal include four counts of child sexual exploitation and one count of incitement. The seven counts involve five underage boys.

Mr. Harris has been held at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Chicago since his arrest.

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Newsrust - US Top News: Jerry Harris sentenced to 12 years in prison for sex crimes involving minors
Jerry Harris sentenced to 12 years in prison for sex crimes involving minors
Newsrust - US Top News
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