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Jerry Harris from 'Cheer' named in child abuse lawsuit where victims say he asked for 'sexual act' at Fort Worth competition

After meeting the boys, Harris allegedly asked for their contact information, which later escalated into asking for nude photos, the statement said.

Jeremiah "Jerry" Harris, known for being in the Netflix show "Cheer," has been named in a sexual harassment lawsuit filed on behalf of two 13-year-old boys.

The lawsuit filed Monday alleges Harris asked the boys to send sexually explicit pictures of themselves and that he asked one of them for a sexual act at a Fort Worth competition.

The lawsuit alleges sexual harassment and infliction of emotional distress by Harris and the cheer sponsor companies. 

The suit says the cheer companies were negligent in supervising the boys. The suit asks for a trial by jury and is seeking $1 million in damages.

When the boys, who are twins, were 13 years old, they participated in cheerleading competitions in 2018 and met Harris, who they knew for his personality, and were "star-struck," the lawsuit said.

The Netflix show chronicles the Navarro College cheer team from Corsicana, about 60 miles south of Dallas.

After meeting the boys, Harris allegedly asked for their contact information, which later escalated into his asking for nude photos, the lawsuit said. 

In February 2019, at a cheer competition at the Fort Worth Convention Center, Harris allegedly told one of the victims to follow him to a secluded bathroom and asked the boy to perform oral sex, the lawsuit said.

Harris was at the competition events, sponsored and sanctioned by Varsity Spirit LLC and United States All Star Federation, as a coach, trainer, mentor, representative and agent, the lawsuit said.

When the boys first met Harris, he asked for the victims' phone numbers and social media account names on Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat and began "grooming" the victims, the lawsuit said.

"Almost immediately, Harris’ messages turned sexual in nature, including demands that his victims send 'booty pics,' which meant that Harris was demanding that minors transmit photographs of their nude buttocks to Harris," the lawsuit said.

Credit: WFAA
Jeremiah "Jerry" Harris

The lawsuit said that Harris continued to ask the boys about their relationships and sexual experiences. He also allegedly FaceTimed them "to make them feel special and that he cared for them," the lawsuit said.

The statement also says that Harris allegedly exploited the fact that the victims were openly gay.

"Among the messages, Harris would continue to demand that victims 'send nudes,' expressly demand that these young boys send Harris child pornography, including pictures of their naked bodies," the lawsuit said.

The suit claims Harris manipulated the boys, saying that he would increase their social media presence by posting a message or post on their pages, but only in exchange for the boys sending nude photos to Harris.

At the incident at the Fort Worth competition, Harris led one of the boys to a deserted hallway to a distant bathroom where he sexually harassed and molested one of the boys, the lawsuit said, which calls the victims "John HC Doe" and "John HS Doe."

The suit says that the boy's brother and teammates kept calling and texting to find out where the boy was.

"Eventually, because Harris would not stop demand oral sex, John HC Doe ran out of the bathroom and rejoined the rest of his teammates," the lawsuit says. 

In February 2020, the victims' mother found the messages on their phones and social media, including the sexually-explicit messages, images and videos, the lawsuit said.

Photo examples attached to the lawsuit include screenshots of text messages and a Snapchat selfie from a person in Harris' likeness with the caption, "would you ever want to ****."

The lawsuit said that the plaintiffs learned they weren't the only victims of Harris and the boys' mother reported Harris to the USASF, Varsity and CAI, a company in Plano, but Harris was still given the "green light," the lawsuit said. Attorney John Manly said the boys' mother also reported to the Fort Worth Police Department and FBI.

There have been no criminal charges filed by Fort Worth police as of Tuesday.

Representatives for Harris told ABC News he denies the allegations.

Varsity Spirit and USASF have not responded to a request for comment.

Manly, Stewart and Finaldi law firm, which is representing the plaintiffs, also represents more than 180 alleged victims of former Michigan State University and U.S. Women's Gymnastics Olympic Team doctor Larry Nassar. 

The lawsuit says the plaintiffs "have suffered great pain of mind and body, shock, emotional distress, physical manifestations of emotional distress including stress, anxiety, embarrassment, loss of self-esteem, disgrace, humiliation, and loss of enjoyment of life." 

It also says they will sustain a loss of earnings and earning capacity and will have expenses related to therapy and counseling.

Attorney Sarah Klein urged other victims to report any abuse to law enforcement.

"We have seen too many examples of national athletic organizations such as USA Gymnastics, USA Swimming and others ignore sexual abuse of those in high-profile positions like Harris," Klein said in a statement.

Cheer Athletics said in a statement that Harris has never worked for the cheer company. He was an athlete participant, which ended after a national competition on March 1. 

The company said after they were made aware of allegation against Harris in May 2020, they reported the allegations to enforcement, Child Protective Services and the USASF.

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