AceShowbiz - Jerry Harris has struck a plea deal in federal sex crimes case involving minors. The former "Cheer" star pleaded guilty to two out of seven sexual abuse and child pornography charges, departing from the not guilty plea he entered more than a year ago.
On Thursday, February 10, the disgraced former reality star changed his original not guilty plea in a Chicago court. He told Judge Manish S. Shah that he reached a plea agreement with prosecutors and was pleading guilty to two of those counts, which involved charges that he persuaded a 17-year-old to send him sexually explicit photos for money and traveled to Florida "for the purpose of engaging in illicit sexual conduct" with a 15-year-old.
In a statement to Rolling Stone, his attorneys wrote that the TV personality "wishes to take responsibility for his actions and publicly convey his remorse for the harm he has caused." The statement continued to read, "Jerry is a 22-year-old young man whose story can only be understood through the lens of the extreme poverty, sexual abuse, and neglect of his childhood."
The attorneys also claimed that Jerry himself was "manipulated and sexually abused as a child" and contextualized his criminal actions by saying that the cheerleading community "perversely made him believe that this sexual conduct was somehow normal when it was not." The statement then alleged that Jerry didn't have a safe place to share his own experiences of being exploited, so he masked his trauma with a "bright face."
"Since his incarceration, Jerry has actively sought out and is participating in mental health treatment and therapy both for his conduct and the diagnosed trauma disorders for which he suffers," Jerry's legal team continued. "With his plea of guilty, Jerry will spend the rest of his life making amends for what he has done."
The change in Jerry's plea came less than two months after Netflix released the trailer for the second season of "Cheer". His former teammates and former coach Monica Aldama will react to his arrest in an entire episode.
Previously, Jerry's former coach Monica told Ellen DeGeneres how she felt about his arrest. "It was shocking. It was devastating for everyone," she said in an interview on "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" last month. "As a parent, I was heartbroken for those affected and it was definitely one of the major challenges that we faced, just keeping ourselves in a good state of mind, mentally to get through that."
Jerry was arrested in September 2020. At the time, the prominent cheerleader was taken into police custody on suspicion of producing child pornography. That same week, he was sued by twin brothers, who were 13 and "star-struck" when they met him, for allegedly soliciting sex and nude photos from them. Then in December that year, he pleaded not guilty.