Cheer star Jerry Harris, shown in 2020, pleaded guilty on Thursday to federal charges of soliciting sex from minors at cheerleading competitions
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Jerry Harris said ‘I am not an evil person’ as he was sentenced to 12 years behind bars for crimes relating to child pornography and soliciting sex from minors.

The star of hit Netflix series Cheer apologized to his victims and said he was ‘still learning who I am’ at the hearing at a federal court in Chicago on Wednesday.

Prosecutors had pushed for a lengthy sentence, saying that Harris’ status as a popular celebrity had enabled him to ‘persuade and entice’ his young victims to engage in sexual conduct.

Judge Manish S Shah told the social media star and cheerleading champion to consider the sentence an ‘expression of the seriousness of your crimes, tempered with some hope that all is not lost for you or for your victims, and that in the future some healing can occur’.

Harris, 22, who has remained in custody at a federal detention facility since his arrest in September 2020, appeared in court for the sentence, which lasted around seven hours.

Addressing his victims before receiving his sentence, he said: ‘I am deeply sorry for all the trauma my abuse has caused you.

Cheer star Jerry Harris, shown in 2020, pleaded guilty on Thursday to federal charges of soliciting sex from minors at cheerleading competitions

Cheer star Jerry Harris, shown in 2020, pleaded guilty on Thursday to federal charges of soliciting sex from minors at cheerleading competitions

Harris, who quickly rose to fame in season one of the cheerleading-related Netflix hit, had entered guilty pleas to two charges – receiving child porn using interstate commerce, and traveling over state lines with intent to illicit sexual conduct with a minor. 

The Texas native was 19 years old at the time of his arrest.

The alleged victims in that case were boys aged 13 at the time, according to the criminal complaint.

‘Harris’ sexual assault of (one) boy in such a public place, in an unlocked public bathroom, during an event attended by dozens of responsible adults demonstrates that Harris either does not care about being caught committing his offenses, or simply cannot stop himself,’ Assistant US Attorney Christopher Parente wrote of one of Harris’ victims. 

Harris, pictured above on the 'Ellen' show, rose to fame in season one of the cheerleading-related Netflix hit

Harris, pictured above on the ‘Ellen’ show, rose to fame in season one of the cheerleading-related Netflix hit

Authorities said Harris coerced minor victims to send him graphic photos and videos of themselves while soliciting sex from boys as young as 13 at cheerleading competitions across the country, according to the Tribune. 

In December 2020, Harris was indicted on charges alleging misconduct at such competitions in Illinois, Florida and Texas, with federal prosecutors alleging that Harris had attempted to persuade a minor to engage in oral sex at one cheerleading event. 

Authorities also claim he solicited another minor for sex in a different state, and admitted to having five to 10 victims in all.  

Prosecutors had painted him as a major figure within the competitive cheerleading community due to his role on the popular Netflix docuseries, which follows a cheerleading squad from Navarro College in Corsicana, Texas.  

The popular Netflix docuseries follows a cheerleading squad, pictured above, from Navarro College in Corsicana, Texas

The popular Netflix docuseries follows a cheerleading squad, pictured above, from Navarro College in Corsicana, Texas

A still image taken from the Netflix docuseries 'Cheer,' with the Navarro College cheerleading squad pictured above

A still image taken from the Netflix docuseries ‘Cheer,’ with the Navarro College cheerleading squad pictured above

Harris 'Cheer' co-stars address his child pornography charges against him during Season Two

Harris ‘Cheer’ co-stars address his child pornography charges against him during Season Two

The Naperville native has been behind bars since October 2020, when US Magistrate Judge Heather McShain said he would be a danger to the community if released following an initial charge of one count of production of child porn. 

McShain added that Harris had used his position within the cheerleading community to both meet and proposition his young victims, while rejecting the ‘blurred line’ between Harris’ age and that of his alleged victims.  

‘(Harris) was not a child,’ McShain said. ‘He was an adult.’

On Tuesday, federal prosecutors described Harris as a sexual predator who used his fame to victimize young boys at cheerleading events nationwide.

Authorities said Harris continued to pursue minors in a sexual manner even after he learned he was under investigation, with prosecutors asking the court that Harris be denied bond.  

Meanwhile, Harris’ attorneys had requested the courts to release him on house arrest, while adding that he suffers from asthma and is at risk for COVID-19 in jail. 

Harris is being held without bond in Chicago’s downtown Metropolitan Correctional Center, records show. 

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