Cheer star Jerry Harris pleads not guilty in sexual misconduct case
On Thursday, Dec. 17, the 21-year-old star pleaded not guilty to seven charges total, including four counts of sexual exploitation of children, one count of receiving child pornography, one count of traveling with the intent to engage in illicit sexual contact with a minor, and one count of enticement, according to legal documents obtained by Entertainment Tonight.
He did not appear in court in-person.
Harris faces a minimum sentence of 15 years if convicted for each of the sexual exploitation charges and a minimum of 10 years for the enticement charge, ET reported.
Harris has been behind bars since he was arrested in September on a federal charge for allegedly producing child pornography. He is accused of "enticing an underage boy to produce sexually explicit videos and photos of himself," according to a statement from federal officials.
The Netflix star allegedly "contacted the underage boy on a social media application and repeatedly enticed him to produce sexually explicit videos and photographs of himself and send them to Harris, according to a criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Chicago. The minor victim informed Harris during their initial online encounter that he was 13 years old."
Harris is also being sued by two underage twin brothers who filed a lawsuit against Harris for allegedly sexually abusing them and demanding nude photographs from them. The suit, filed in Texas days before Harris' arrest, was obtained by PEOPLE and states the plaintiffs are both competitive cheerleaders who first met Harris in 2018, when they were 13.
The suit alleges he leveraged his prominence in the cheerleading community to groom the two for abuse.
While Harris' attorney has not commented on the charges, in September a spokesperson for Harris released a statement regarding the lawsuit, saying, "We categorically dispute the claims made against Jerry Harris, which are alleged to have occurred when he was a teenager. We are confident that when the investigation is completed the true facts will be revealed."
Earlier this month, Harris was hit with seven additional charges of alleged sex crimes and child pornography.
According to an indictment obtained by the Chicago Sun, USA Today and the Chicago Tribune, prosecutors charged Harris with receiving and attempting to receive child pornography and four counts of using, persuading, inducing and enticing a minor "to engage in sexually explicit conduct for the purpose of producing a visual depiction of such conduct."
He was also charged with one count of using the internet to allegedly "persuade, induce, and entice" one of the minors to engage in sexual activity. The alleged acts took place in Florida, Illinois and Texas.
It's unclear when Harris is scheduled to appear in court next.
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