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CHICAGO — “Cheer” star Jerry Harris pled guilty Thursday in a federal child pornography case, which alleges he solicited sex from minors at cheerleading competitions.

A seven-count indictment was filed against him in December of 2020, alleging sexual misconduct across a trio of states.  

As part of a deal, Harris entered a guilty plea on one count of receipt of child pornography and another of traveling with intent to engage in illicit sexual conduct. 

Prosecutors say if this case had gone to trial, their evidence would have shown that back in the summer of 2020, while Harris was living in his hometown of Naperville, he communicated with a minor – whom he knew was under 18 – via Snapchat, repeatedly asking for photos of a sexual nature. 

With respect to the second charge, prosecutors stated Harris traveled from Dallas to Orlando in May of 2019 to engage in sexual conduct with a 15-year-old, whom he asked to meet in a public bathroom. 

After ensuring Harris was fully competent and aware of what he was admitting to, the judge on Thursday accepted his plea.  

The defense team in the case released a statement to WGN News saying the criminal conduct “took place in the context of a competitive Cheer Community where inappropriately sexualizing and sexually abusing children was far too common and too often overlooked. Jerry was himself exploited, manipulated, and sexually abused as a child within the Cheer Community in a way that perversely made him believe that this sexual conduct was somehow normal when it was not.” 

The statement goes on to say Harris has been in therapy since his incarceration in October of 2020, which he spoke of today in court. The “Cheer” star told the judge he’s been seeing psychologists at the correctional facility in Chicago where he’s currently being held. 

Part of the plea package involves the prosecution asking the judge to sentence Harris on just those two counts. 

The count of child porn here in Illinois carries a minimum of 5 years in prison and a max of 20 years. 

The second charge in relation to travel between Texas and Florida carries a maximum term of 30 years behind bars.  

Sentencing is due to be carried out on June 28.