Jerry Harris, who skyrocketed to fame as the most inspiring star of Netlfix’s docu-series Cheer, is under FBI investigation for soliciting sexually explicit photos and sex from minors, as first reported by USA Today.
UPDATE: On Thursday, September 17, Chicago Tribune reporter Jason Meisner tweeted that latest update to Harris’ case. Meisner tweeted, “///BREAKING/// Netflix star Jerry Harris of ‘Cheer’ has been arrested and charged in federal court in Chicago with production of child pornography. Details coming soon.”
On September 14, FBI agents executed a search warrant at a home in Naperville, Illinois, as part of their investigation. Siobhan Johnson, FBI special agent and public affairs officer, told USA Today, “The FBI is conducting court-authorized law enforcement activity in the area,” but declined to further comment.
According to USA Today, the FBI is investigating allegations made by 14-year-old twin brothers that Harris harassed them for more than a year both online and in person. The same allegations were reported separately to the police by Varsity Brands. Varsity, a leading private company that sells cheerleading apparel and hosts camps and competitions, was featured in Cheer in a negative light, according to Team Insight Extra.
On August 1, Varsity’s chief legal officer, Burton Brillhart, said the company learned of “inappropriate sexual conduct” allegations against Harris and brought the information to authorities as required by law, USA Today reported.
“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,” Brillhart wrote.
Evidence provided by Brillhart included two screenshots in his August 1 letter to law enforcement. One is a Snapchat message featuring a picture of what appears to be Harris’ face and the words, “Would you ever want to ****.” The other screenshot was part of a series of text messages that began on Friday, May 3, 2019, when an individual named “Jerry Harris” wrote, “Hey, btw I found a place for us to do stuff. It’s actually pretty good haha.”
Harris, 21, has yet to publicly comment on the situation. Here’s what you need to know about Jerry Harris:
Harris Was Voted Male Star of the Year by the Critics Choice Awards in June
News of the investigation came as a shock to fans of Harris, as he was the biggest and most supportive cheerleader at Navarro College, the squad featured on Cheer. His generous heart and never-ending hope to “make mat” earned him over a million followers on Instagram and appearances on The Ellen Degeneres Show, and he was an invited guest to Vanity Fair’s exclusive Oscars party in February.
Securing his spot as a major reality star, in June, Harris earned the Critic’s Choice Award for Male Star of the Year.
That same month, Harris conducted an interview with former Vice President Joe Biden to speak about issues concerning young adults and the Black community, but that video has since been deleted and removed from all platforms following the FBI investigation.
Harris Announced His Partnership With Cheerios to Help Combat Child Hunger in August
Amid the coronavirus pandemic, Harris did whatever he could to bring his uplifting spirit to those around him. He hosted an online event with St. Jude Hospital to help raise money for families with mounting medical bills and most recently became a spokesperson for Cheerios.
On August 4, Harris wrote on Instagram, “In the US, 1 in 4 kids could face hunger this year because of COVID-19. As someone who has faced food insecurity, I feel like it is my privilege to give back in ways that make a difference, which is why I feel so lucky to be partnering with @cheerios!”
However, since the news of the investigation broke out, his sponsored Cheerios ads have been deleted from Instagram
Harris also has paid sponsorship deals with Starbust, Walmart and Schmidt’s natural deodorant. He also created his own line of branded merchandise featuring shirts that read, “Be a Jerry” and “You’ve Got This.”