CHICAGO — The star of the Netflix series “Cheer” appeared in-person for his federal court hearing Wednesday as he awaits trial on child pornography charges.
Federal prosecutors asked a judge to deny Jerry Harris’ bond ahead of his detention hearing.
Naperville resident Harris, 21, is accused of soliciting sexually explicit videos and pictures from twin teenage boys, one of whom sent Harris that content on social media.
Prosecutors said Harris first contacted one of the boys when he was 13, with Instagram messages show Harris asking the boy for pictures of his face and “booty.”
The two had later exchanged graphic videos and photos on Snapchat.
The boy’s mother found text messages in February of this year where Harris apologized to the boy and suggested that they stop contacting one another. Eventually, the boy’s mother found the pornographic videos and photos and contacted police.
Harris’ attorney argues that he was a teenager himself, but still an adult when the contact began with the boy.
The criminal complaint alleges Harris also tried to arrange private meetings with the boys at cheer competitions.
Federal Judge Heather McShain said she would rule on this matter quickly, but did not rule on a potential bond for Harris today.
In court today, prosecutors alleged Harris repeatedly coerced minors into sending him sexually graphic photos, and allege that Harris sexually assaulted a 15-year-old boy in the bathroom during a cheerleading event.
Harris’ attorneys have asked the court to allow for his release on home detention. This would require four adults who were described as “cheer moms” to act as third-party custodians.
The adults would swear an oath to uphold restrictions such as withholding access to computers, cell phones and the internet.
The mother of two of Harris’ alleged victims made a statement to Judge McShain, saying her children had “suffered more than I could have ever imagined.” She asked the judge to keep Harris in jail through his trial.
Federal prosecutors contend that Harris poses a danger to the community if he is released from custody.
Harris was the breakout star of the show that followed the cheerleading team from Navarro College in Corsicana, Texas, as it sought a national title.
If convicted, Harris faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years in prison.