‘Cheer’ Star Jerry Harris Seeks Release From Jail As He Awaits Trial On Child Porn Charges

UPDATE: Judge Says Evidence ‘Overwhelmingly Supports Detention’ Of ‘Cheer’ Star Jerry Harris While Awaiting Trial On Child Porn Charges

CHICAGO (CBSDFW.COM/AP) — Prosecutors argue Jerry Harris — one of the stars of the Netflix documentary “Cheer” — “exhibits all the signs of a serial child predator” and should remain jailed. Defense attorneys for the 21-year-old want him released as he awaits trial on child pornography charges.

A judge said Wednesday that she will decide soon about that potential release.

The issue before U.S. District Judge Heather McShain is whether she believes a plan to release Harris that includes around-the-clock monitoring will be enough to prevent him from victimizing young boys.


Jerry Harris attends the Build Series to discuss “Cheer” on January 29, 2020 in New York City. (credit: Jim Spellman/Getty Images)

A motion from Harris’ attorneys filed ahead of a court hearing argues that the mental health treatment that their client needs is not available in federal jail. The document also said that Harris has asthma, which puts him at greater risk of severe illness from COVID-19.

The judge did not say when she would issue her ruling, only that it would be soon.

At the 90-minute hearing, Todd Pugh, one of Harris’ attorneys told the judge that third-party monitors would make sure Harris doesn’t use the devices that he allegedly used to coerce young boys into sending him obscene photographs. The four women who would take turn monitoring Harris assured the judge that they would turn him in if he tried to use a cellphone or other electronic device.

A prosecutor argued that it would be impossible to prevent Harris from acting on his “criminal impulses.” Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher Parente noted that after Harris learned he was under investigation, he destroyed his cellphone and used another phone to seek photos from children.

“His dangerousness is his ability to access the internet (and) there’s no ankle bracelet for cellphones,” Parente said.

Allegations against Harris surfaced last month when twin boys who are now 14 years old filed a lawsuit alleging that he had sent them sexually explicit photographs of himself and cornered one of them in a bathroom and begged for oral sex. Later that week, Harris was arrested and charged with producing child pornography.

According to the criminal complaint, Harris admitted to FBI agents that he had asked one of the teens to send him photos and videos the boy’s genitals and buttocks via Snapchat. He also admitted to requesting and receiving photographs of 10 to 15 other children, according to the complaint.

The “Cheer” docuseries followed the competitive cheerleading squad from Navarro College in Corsicana.

(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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