Netflix's Cheer star Jerry Harris sentenced to 12 years in prison
The judge said the sentence was an 'expression of the seriousness of your crimes'
One of the star of Netflix's hit series Cheer, Jerry Harris, has been sentenced to 12 years in prison for sex crimes.
22-year-old Jeremiah 'Jerry' Harris was detained back in late 2020 after being accused of "enticing an underage boy to produce sexually explicit videos and photos of himself". Despite denying the charges levelled against him, he pleased guilty in February this year to two charges.
These included sexually assaulting a 15-year-old boy in a bathroom during a cheer competition and paying a 17-year-old male to send him sexually explicit images via Snapchat, according to court records seen by USA Today.
On Wednesday of this week, Harris was sentenced to 12 years in a federal prison for his crimes.
Harris rose to fame via the popular Netflix docu-series Cheer, which chronicled a small town cheerleading squad preparing to compete in a national competition. These charges and Harris' ultimate arrest in September 2020 initiated a change in the cheerleading world and led to others coming forward with their own reports of sexual abuse.
Following a seven hour hearing, U.S. District Judge Manish Shah explained that Harris' sentence was an "expression of the seriousness of your crimes, tempered with some hope that all is not lost for you or for your victims, and that in the future some healing can occur."
Judge Shah also ordered that Harris complete eight years of supervised release following his prison term.
Meanwhile Sarah Klein, an attorney for the first family in Texas to come forward with allegations against Harris said: "Jerry Harris' guilt has been firmly established," adding that "The sentence he received reflects the severity of his crimes and the lifetime of pain his victims will suffer."
Speaking directly to his victims before hearing his sentence, Harris apologised for his actions, saying he was "wrong and selfish."
According to a copy of his official statement, shared by his attorney Todd Pugh, Harris added: "I regret my decisions and I am deeply sorry.
"All I can do going forward is to try to do better and be a better person. I do not deserve forgiveness, but I do pray that one day you might find it in your hearts."
Harris's attorney had argued for a shorter, six year sentence, citing his own experiences of sexual abuse as a child as providing him with a "warped" view of relationships. Accompanying these arguments with character reference letters, Harris ultimately received his 12 year sentence.
The second series of Cheer dedicates an entire episode to these incidents, entitled simply: "Jerry".
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