In Chicago, federal prosecutors are calling for a 15-year prison sentence for Jerry Harris, the former star of the Netflix series Cheer, who pleaded guilty earlier this year to child pornography and sex-crime charges involving multiple victims.
According to NBC Chicago, on Wednesday (June 22), Assistant U.S. Attorney Kelly Guzman wrote in a sentencing memo that Harris “used what he had at his disposal” to commit his crimes. She also added that he used “his status as a competitive cheerleader, his social media persona, and eventually his celebrity and money, to persuade and entice his young victims to engage in sexually explicit conduct for him or with him.”
This, thus, caused one victim to become anxious, lose sleep, experience panic attacks and develop a fear of public restrooms, according to Guzman.
Harris’ legal team asked in their menu that their client receive a lighter, six-year prison sentence, arguing that “the reality is that [Harris] is both victimizer and victim,” having also been sexually assaulted during his childhood.
A quote from Harris was also included by the defense, reading: “I had to face what I did. I was an adult, and I took advantage of these teen boys. I was wrong. I caused harm. I was selfish and I exploited their weakness. It was all me. I realized what I did was wrong, and it was bad and I truly do feel sorry for it. And I am ashamed of myself.”
In February, Harris pleaded guilty and is scheduled to be sentenced on July 6 by U.S. District Judge Manish Shah. Harris admitted he offered $2,000 in payments for sexually explicit images from one minor victim, persuaded a second to send him similar images and obtained masturbation videos from a third. Additionally, he admitted to sexually assaulting a fourth minor in a public bathroom.