Jeremiah Harris, one of the stars of the Netflix documentary series Cheer, has pleaded guilty in a federal sexual abuse case against him.
Harris, 22, admitted to receiving child pornography and traveling to another state with the intent to engage in illicit sexual activity.
He has been held in pretrial detention since his arrest in Chicago in 2020.
The guilty plea was part of a deal to avoid prosecution on five other federal charges against him.
The Emmy Award-winning series Cheer follows the lives of the Navarro College cheerleading squad in Texas.
Harris’ fame saw him win an invitation to the Oscars as a guest of TV host Ellen DeGeneres, where he interviewed celebrities on the red carpet.
On Thursday, he pleaded guilty to offering to pay a 17-year-old to send him sexually explicit photos and traveling to Florida for the purpose of “engaging in unlawful sexual conduct” with a 15-year-old.
The investigation was triggered by a complaint from a Texas mother, whose two sons were abused by Harris.
“In an effort to put an end to a serial predator and avoid harming other children, my sons have made the courageous decision to speak publicly about the sexual abuse they suffered at the hands of Jerry Harris,” the mother said in a press release.
“Harris’ admission of guilt today gives me hope that the pain and heartache my sons have endured as a result of speaking out was not in vain.”
An attorney for his victims called for an investigation of the United States All Star Federation, Varsity Spirit and Cheer Athletics to determine if any employees “could have stopped Harris’ abuse and did not.”
In the latest season of Cheer, released last month, twins identified as Harris’ victims describe their reluctance to speak out.
“I told him I was 13, and after that — right away — he asked me, ‘Can I have butt pictures?’ or ‘Can you send butt pictures?’ ” said one of the boys.
One of the boys said he decided to speak out after watching a campaign conversation then-presidential candidate Joe Biden had with Harris in 2020.
“I want to show the world, give people a face, when they think of Jerry Harris, what he did,” the boy said.
Prosecutors say Harris admitted to exchanging lewd photos with 10 to 15 children he knew were minors in at least three different states.
The child pornography charge carries a minimum sentence of five years in prison and a maximum of 20 years, according to CBS News, the BBC’s partner in the United States.
The unlawful sexual conduct charge carried a maximum sentence of 30 years.
His sentence will be handed down on June 28.
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