Netflix star’s sick sex texts to kids
The star of Netflix docuseries Cheer was arrested on Thursday on federal child exploitation material charges - days after he was sued by twin brothers accusing him of sexual misconduct, authorities said.
Jeremiah "Jerry" Harris, 21, is charged with one count of producing child exploitation material but allegedly admitted to receiving X-rated photos from "at least between 10-15 other individuals he knew were minors," according to a complaint filed by the US Attorney's Office in Chicago.
The arrest marks a stunning fall from grace for Harris, who gained national recognition for his role on Cheer, which follows the cheer squad from Navarro College in Corsicana, Texas.
On Monday, he was slapped with a $US1 million ($A1.37 million) lawsuit from twin brothers who claim he "groomed" them for sex.
The suit, filed in Texas court, accuses Harris of demanding sexually explicit photos from the boys and molesting them after befriending them at a national competition.
The siblings, who are competitive cheerleaders from Texas, said the alleged abuse began when they were around 13 and 14 and Harris was 19, and that it lasted for more than a year.
The suit accuses Harris of exploiting his "popularity and position of fame with young male cheer athletes" as his Emmy-winning series blew up.
The boys allegedly looked up to Harris - who is nationally known on the cheer scene - as their "mentor," so they complied with his demands, the suit said.
Harris allegedly demanded oral sex from one of the boys in a bathroom at the American Cheerleaders Association's national competition in February 2019, the suit said. The boy refused to comply.
His alleged behaviour was uncovered in February by the boys' mother, who found the seedy messages on her sons' mobiles and social media - including some of the sexually explicit photos and videos, the suit said.
The criminal charges against Harris, however, only pertain to the alleged abuse of one of the boys - the one he allegedly solicited oral sex from in the bathroom, court papers said.
Harris also allegedly sent the boy a video of himself masturbating and received multiple photos of the minor "naked and stretching, doing cheer poses" and showing off his genitalia, the filing said.
During an interview with investigators on Monday, Harris allegedly admitted to exchanging the illicit photos with the boy - as well as "at least between 10 to 15 other individuals he knew were minors," the complaint alleged.
He also allegedly admitted to having anal and oral sex with a 15-year-old at a cheer event in 2019.
Federal agents executed a search warrant at Harris' home in Naperville, Illinois, on Monday, the same day the FBI confirmed it was investigating allegations of sexual misconduct.
Representatives for Harris denied the allegations made by the twins.
If convicted, Harris faces a minimum sentence of 15 years in prison and maximum of 30 years.
The investigation is ongoing, leaving open the possibility that more charges may be brought.*For 24-hour sexual violence support call the national hotline 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or MensLine on 1800 600 636.
This article originally appeared on the New York Post and was reproduced with permission
Originally published as Netflix star's sick sex texts to kids