Jerry Harris Pleads Not Guilty in Child-Pornography Case12/24/2020
Jerry Harris, the 21-year-old breakout star of the Netflix series “Cheer,” has pleaded not guilty to federal child pornography charges and accusations that he solicited sex from minors.
Mr. Harris was arrested by the F.B.I. at his home in Naperville, Ill., on Sept. 17 on a child pornography charge and has remained in custody without bond at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Chicago since.
He faces seven charges regarding five minor boys, including four counts of sexual exploitation of children, one count of receiving and attempting to receive child pornography, one count of traveling with the attempt to engage in sexual conduct with a minor and one count of enticement. The acts took place in Florida, Illinois and Texas, according to the indictment.
Mr. Harris entered his plea in an arraignment hearing held by telephone to a federal court in Chicago on Dec. 17, according to court records.
If he is convicted, the four sexual exploitation counts and the child pornography charge carry a sentence of at least 15 years each in prison, and the enticement charge carries a minimum of 10 years.
In a voluntary interview with F.B.I. officials in September, Mr. Harris acknowledged that he had exchanged sexually explicit photos on Snapchat with at least 10 to 15 people he knew were minors, had sex with a 15-year-old at a cheerleading competition in 2019, and paid a 17-year-old to send him naked photos.
Mr. Harris’s lawyers had filed a motion for pretrial release in October, arguing that his previously clean record did not merit continued detention and that he would not be a danger to the community. But a judge denied it on Oct. 16.
No trial date has been set.
Todd Pugh, Mr. Harris’s lawyer, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
“Cheer,” which won an Emmy for outstanding unstructured reality series in September, follows a national champion cheerleading team from Navarro College, a small-town Texas junior college.
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