The judge said the sentence was an “expression of the seriousness of your crimes.”
Jerry Harris has had quite the fall from grace. The former competitive cheerleader had a wild turn in 2020 as an audience favorite on the Netflix documentary show, Cheer. But now, he will be serving 12 years in prison for sex crimes.
In February, Harris pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting a 15-year-old at a cheer competition and paying for sexual photos from a 17-year-old via Snapchat. Harris also admitted to other similar crimes, but those charges were dismissed as part of a plea agreement. He was first arrested in September of 2020, causing a mass upheaval in the cheer community.
U.S. District Judge Manish Shah, who also sentenced Harris to eight years of supervised release following his prison term, told Harris in court that the sentencing was 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.” An attorney for one of the victim’s families, Sarah Klein, said, “The sentence he received reflects the severity of his crimes and the lifetime of pain his victims will suffer.”
Before the sentencing, Harris apologized to his victims. “I am deeply sorry for all the trauma my abuse has caused you. I pray deep down that your suffering comes to an end,” he said, according to a report by NPR. “I'm not an evil person. I'm still learning who I am and what my purpose is.” The victims’ attorneys had pushed for a 15-year sentence with 10 years supervised release, while Harris’ defense requested six years imprisonment with eight years supervised release.