Who is Jerry Harris? How 'Cheer' star got caught in alleged sex scandal over explicit photos from minors
The string of allegations began when 14-year-old twin brothers narrated a pattern of harassment from Harris, both online and at cheer competitions
Jerry Harris — who starred in the Netflix six-part series ‘Cheer’ — has gotten embroiled in a shocking sex scandal. The news first came when USA Today reported the FBI is investigating allegations that the celebrity cheerleader solicited sexually explicit photos and sex from minors, as per multiple sources. A search warrant was issued on September 15 afternoon at a home in Naperville, Illinois, as part of that investigation. "The FBI is conducting court-authorized law enforcement activity in the area," Siobhan Johnson, FBI special agent and public affairs officer told USA Today but did not reveal any further details. The 21-year-old actor has not been criminally charged yet.
The string of allegations began when 14-year-old twin brothers narrated a pattern of harassment, both online and at cheer competitions, in interviews with USA Today. Charlie and Sam, and their mother Kristen (last names withheld as the boys are minors) disclosed what really happened in August at their Texas home and showed screenshots from five text and social media conversations between the boys. As per reports, the messages include texts explicitly requesting nude photos or sex.
What really happened?
A Snapchat conversation has an account with the name ".jerry harris" which reportedly responded to a photo of Charlie stretching his leg above his head. "Do it naked and take a video and show me," Harris replied privately, as per the screenshot shared by USA Today. Talking about how it made him feel, Charlie explained: "It was just eating me alive," adding, "It was just making me so gross and uncomfortable. Every time I saw his name or something like that, I was just cringing about it."
They further said that it started a year ago when they were 13 and Harris was 19 but went on to last for more than a year. As per the same report, the twin brothers' allegations were reported to police by Varsity Brands, a private company that dominates the cheerleading industry, handling everything from uniform sales to major competitions.
However, a representative for Harris categorically denied the allegations. "We categorically dispute the claims made against Jerry Harris, which are alleged to have occurred when he was a teenager,” the spokesperson told Variety in a statement. “We are confident that when the investigation is completed the true facts will be revealed.”
Apparently, Harris has been accused of allegedly asking one of the brothers to have sex with him in 2019 at two Varsity cheerleading competitions. Varsity’s Chief Legal Officer Burton Brillhart said the company had learned of "inappropriate sexual conduct" allegations against Harris and was reporting the information to authorities as required by law in letters to police in Florida and Texas sent on August 1, 2020. "As a result of the recent allegation, we have barred this person from having any affiliation with Varsity Brands or any of its subsidiaries or affiliates, now and in the future," he wrote.
Harris was reportedly working for National Cheerleaders Association, a Varsity brand in 2019. Varsity spokeswoman Jackie Kennedy said the organization "can’t comment on an active law enforcement investigation; we continue to cooperate with authorities in their inquiries on this matter." The FBI has already spoken to the boys and their mother. As per USA Today, records show that the allegations against Harris have been reported to at least four other law enforcement agencies in Texas and Florida.
A look at Jerry Harris' life
Born as Jeremiah Harris and raised in Chicago, he lost his mother to lung cancer when he was just 16. He went to Navarro College in Corsicana, Texas, where he was the pillar of Navarro Coach Monica Aldama’s squad — who has led Navarro to 14 National Cheerleaders Association National Championships along with five “grand national” wins. Known for his eccentric and over-the-top "mat talk", the actor soon rose to prominence when Netflix's cheerleading docuseries that followed the Navarro College Cheer Team of Corsicana, Texas, released. Reportedly, he also clinched a Regional Scholars Award from the University of Louisville during the finale of ‘Cheer’.
In January 2020, he appeared on 'The Ellen DeGeneres Show', along with other members of the team and in February 2020, Ellen announced him as The Ellen DeGeneres Show's Oscars red carpet correspondent. He also appeared on the cheerleading themed song 'Mas(k)ot' by Todrick Hall from his album Quarantine Queen during the pandemic. As per Variety, he also inked endorsement deals with Schmidt’s deodorant, Panera Bread and American Eagle and has almost 1.2M followers on Instagram.
Now, fans are worried if he would be a part of 'Cheer' Season 2 or not. "Cheer star Jerry Harris is currently under investigation by the FBI for soliciting photos and sex from minors. The allegations were made by Varsity, a company involved in the cheer and dance community. Will this keep the Netflix star from appearing in season two of Cheer?" one tweet read and another said, "I didn’t even know who Jerry Harris was till today and that’s only because he went to my HS and all the naperville kids on my timeline are tweeting about him." One said, "All comments are disabled on Jerry Harris’s Instagram."
Cheer star Jerry Harris is currently under investigation by the FBI for soliciting photos and sex from minors. The allegations were made by Varsity, a company involved in the cheer and dance community. Will this keep the Netflix star from appearing in season two of Cheer?— Olivia Stallard (@OliviaStallard1) September 15, 2020
I didn’t even know who Jerry Harris was till today and that’s only because he went to my HS and all the naperville kids on my timeline are tweeting about him.— Victor (@T_yung_blaze) September 15, 2020
All comments are disabled on Jerry Harris’s Instagram 🧐— CLO (@CLO93_30) September 15, 2020
Ever since the allegations arose, Netflix declined to comment.