UPDATE: October 17, 2020, at 10:20 a.m. E.T.
A judge has ordered Harris to stay in jail in Chicago until his trial because he poses a “significant danger to the community.” BuzzFeed reports that magistrate judge Heather K. McShain, presiding over a hearing (via phone due to the pandemic), said that “there is clear and convincing evidence that the defendant would be a danger to the community if released.”
As an example of how Harris could not be expected to control his alleged predatory impulses, McShain cited the allegation that, after learning of the investigation, Harris destroyed his cell phone, found a new one, and used it to continue to victimize minors. Because of his ability to hide his alleged crimes and familiarity with the internet, the judge ruled that he needed to stay behind bars. The judge said that Harris “was a rising star with a positive future ahead but those positive aspects must be weighed against the aspect he hid from the community.”
ORIGINAL STORY: September 19, 2020, at 12:09 p.m. E.T.
Jerry Harris, the Navarro College cheerleader who rose to fame on the popular Netflix docuseries Cheer and covered the Oscars red carpet for the The Ellen Degeneres Show, has been arrested on child pornography charges, according to the Chicago Tribune. Here’s what we know.
What are the charges? Following a search of his home in Naperville, Illinois, on Monday, September 14, the 21-year-old was arrested on September 17 on one charge of production of child pornography. He’s accused of “soliciting pornographic videos and images of minors and soliciting sex from a 13-year-old victim at cheerleading competitions,” per the Tribune.
If convicted, the production of child pornography carries a sentencing minimum of 15 years in prison.
Earlier this week, a lawsuit in Texas was filed against Harris, per USA Today. “The FBI is conducting court-authorized law enforcement activity in the area,” Siobhan Johnson, FBI special agent and public affairs officer, told USA Today at the time, without further comment.
The criminal investigation is reportedly based on allegations brought by 14-year-old twin brothers who spoke with USA Today about “a pattern of harassment, both online and at cheer competitions, that started when they were 13 and Harris was 19.”
Varsity Spirit, the leading cheerleading organization, sent letters to Texas and Florida police. On August 1, the company notified police regarding allegations of “inappropriate sexual contact by a person who was previously employed at Varsity Spirit.”
On Monday, September 14, Varsity spokeswoman Jackie Kennedy said the company “can’t comment on an active law enforcement investigation; we continue to cooperate with authorities in their inquiries on this matter.”
A spokesperson for Harris originally denied the allegations in a statement to Variety. “We categorically dispute the claims made against Jerry Harris, which are alleged to have occurred when he was a teenager,” the statement read on September 14. “We are confident that when the investigation is completed the true facts will be revealed.”
Monica Aldama, the Navarro coach, released a statement on social media. “My heart is shattered into a million pieces. I am devastated by this shocking, unexpected news,” she wrote. “Our children must be protected from abuse and exploitation, and I'm praying hard for the victims & everyone affected. Please respect our privacy as our family mourns during this time.”
Netflix also released a short statement. "Like everyone we are shocked by this news," a spokesperson told ABC News. "Any abuse of minors is a terrible crime and we respect the legal process."
On September 19, Cheer stars Gabi Butler and La’Darius Marshall spoke out. “Like most of you, I am shocked, dismayed and deeply saddened by the recent news concerning my friend,” Butler wrote. “Ever since I heard the news I have gone back and forth between sobbing uncontrollably and trying to wrap my head around why something like this could happen.”
The cheerleader continued, “To be clear, although I have been a close friend and teammate with Jerry, I was never aware of anything like that he has been accused of taking place. I believe the protection of children is more important than ever in today’s world.”
“I feel as though I have had the wind knocked out of me. How could this happen?” Marshall wrote on Instagram. “As a victim of sexual abuse as a child, I know all too well the pain of experiencing this type of abuse and the difficulties it can create for life after such trauma. My heart goes out to all who may be affected by this behavior from adults. It is wrong and should never happen to a child. I am broken to pieces to his this happen with someone close to me.”
This post will be updated as more information becomes available.
Originally Appeared on Glamour