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Former ‘Cheer’ star Jerry Harris gets 12 years in child pornography case

Jerry Harris, seen here at the Vanity Fair Oscar Party in February 2020, was sentenced Wednesday to 12 years in prison. (Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)

Jerry Harris, former star of the Netflix docuseries “Cheer,” was sentenced Wednesday to 12 years in prison for requesting explicit photos and soliciting sex from teenagers at cheerleading competitions, according to the Associated Press.

U.S. District Judge Manish Shah directed Harris to view the sentence as “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,” the AP reported, noting that the prison time would be followed by eight years under court supervision.

Attorneys for Harris, 22, said in a statement that their client was “exceedingly grateful for Judge Shah’s recognition of his humanity, worthiness, and rehabilitative potential.” They added that Harris had “nothing but empathy and remorse for the people he has harmed and hopes that today’s proceeding provided them some peace.”

The statement also included remarks Harris made Wednesday in court, where he thanked his supporters and apologized to his victims for “all the trauma my abuse has caused you.”

“I pray that your suffering comes to an end and that these proceeding[s] provide you with needed closure,” he said. “I am ashamed as I know that I took advantage of your youth and weakness. I was wrong and selfish. I caused you harm and I do not blame anyone. I regret my decisions and I am deeply sorry.”

Harris rose to fame due to the immense popularity of the documentary series “Cheer,” which premiered in early 2020 and followed a nationally ranked college cheerleading team in Corsicana, Tex. He was arrested in September of that year on a federal child pornography charge. The FBI also searched his Naperville, Ill., residence.

Prosecutors filed additional charges against Harris that December, NBC News reported.

According to federal court records, Harris told agents he requested explicit photos from a 13-year-old on Snapchat throughout a 15-month period and solicited oral sex from the minor on two occasions. He also said he asked for and received photos from around a dozen other minors and engaged in sexual activity with another minor.

Harris was arrested after a lawsuit was filed on behalf of the 13-year-old and his twin brother. They both appeared earlier this year in the second season of “Cheer,” in which they detailed Harris’s behavior toward them.

In February, Harris pleaded guilty to two felony charges against him. His attorneys stated that Harris wanted “to take responsibility for his actions and publicly convey his remorse for the harm he has caused the victims in this case.”