Cheer star Jerry Harris sued by teen boys for alleged sexual exploitation and abuse
A pair of underage twin boys allege Harris sent them sexually explicit messages, requested they send him nudes, and solicited one of them for oral sex.
Underage twin brothers in Texas are suing Jerry Harris, the breakout star from Netflix's Cheer, accusing him of sexual exploitation and abuse.
Attorneys for the unnamed 14-year-old boys filed a petition, which EW has reviewed, with the District Court of Tarrant County in Texas on Monday against Harris, alleging he sent them sexually explicit messages on social media, requested they send him nude photographs of themselves, and solicited one of the boys for oral sex, threatening "imminent physical bodily injury without [the boy's] consent."
According to the suit, the boys were 13 when Harris befriended them at national cheerleading competitions. They were "star struck" by Harris, already a "known All-Star Cheer personality, icon and coach within the state and nationally," and agreed to keep in touch with him in person, by phone, and via social media, the suit states. The two teens allege their interactions with Harris turned sexual quickly, which led to Harris' grooming, harassing, and molesting them.
Harris "violated his role as a mentor, trainer, coach, sexually violated the Plaintiffs, and used his position of authority and power over the Plaintiffs," the suit states.
Representatives for Harris have not responded to EW's requests for comment, but a spokesperson for Harris told PEOPLE, "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."
The suit also names the United States All Star Federation, Inc; Varsity Spirit, LLC; and Cheer Athletics, Inc — which all directly or indirectly employed Harris as a coach, trainer, and mentor of minor children when the alleged crimes were committed — for not acting expeditiously enough to protect said minors.
“Varsity Spirit is trying to mislead the public by implying that they were the ones who took the initiative to report Harris to law enforcement," John Manly, attorney for the plaintiffs, said in a release. "In fact, our clients’ mother took action to report Harris to USASF, Varsity Spirit and Cheer Athletics, including providing evidentiary proof of the manipulation, sexual harassment, and exploitation that her sons had suffered. She also took action to report Harris to law enforcement, including reporting Harris to Fort Worth Police Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation."
USA Today reported on Monday that Harris is currently under investigation by the FBI for the reported solicitation of sex and nude photos from minors. A representative from the bureau declined to comment when contacted by EW.
The plaintiffs are seeking damages from the aforementioned defendants in excess of one million dollars. They allege the minors have and continue to suffer with "great pain of mind and body, shock, emotional distress, physical manifestations of emotional distress including embarrassment, loss of self-esteem, disgrace, humiliations, and loss of enjoyment of life" for which they'll "incur expenses for medical and psychological treatment, therapy, and counseling."
EW has reached out to representatives for USASF, Varsity, and Cheer Athletics who have not responded. A representative for Netflix declined to comment.