The FBI is investigating allegations that celebrity cheerleader Jerry Harris solicited sexually explicit photos and sex of minors, multiple sources told USA TODAY. Officers executed a search warrant on Monday afternoon at a home in Naperville, Ill., As part of the investigation.
The FBI conducts court-authorized law enforcement activities in the region, Siobhan Johnson, FBI special agent and public affairs official, told USA TODAY. She declined further comments.
Harris, who gained national notoriety when featured in the Netflix Cheer docuseries, has not been criminally charged. The 21-year-old could not be reached immediately for comment.
The criminal investigation is based on allegations that were separately reported to the police by Varsity Brands, a private company that dominates the cheerleading industry and handles everything from uniform sales to major competitions. In August 1 letters to Florida and Texas Police, Varsity Legal Director Burton Brillhart said the company had been made aware of allegations of inappropriate sexual conduct against Harris and reported the information to authorities as the ‘demands the law.
Due to the recent allegation, we have banned this person from having an affiliation with Varsity Brands or any of its subsidiaries or affiliates, now and in the future, he wrote.
Brillhart included two screenshots in his communication with law enforcement. In a Snapchat post, an image of the top of what appears to be Harris’s face is tagged with the message, Would you ever ****. The other screenshot, which is a series of text messages, shows an exchange that started on May 3, 2019, when an individual named Jerry Harris wrote: Hey btw I found a place to do stuff to us , that’s actually pretty good haha.
The Brillharts letters describe Harris as a former employee who was not working for Varsity at the time of the incidents. In May 2019, Harris posted on social media that he worked for the National Cheerleaders Association, a college brand. That summer, he posted photos and videos of himself coaching athletes at NCA camps.
Varsity did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The Netflix documentary series follows the cheerleaders of Texas Navarro College in their quest for a national title. Cheer, which received six Emmy nominations, was an instant hit when it was released in January. Harris became her star, attracting fans for her positive attitude. Throughout the documentary, the Illinois native shouted encouragement from his teammates as they practiced difficult skills.
In February, Harris stood on a Dallas stage alongside Oprah Winfrey, who handed her her mic and asked her to pump up the crowd with her speech on the mat. The same month he celebrities interviewed on the Oscars red carpet for The Ellen DeGeneres Show. In June, he filmed a short video with former Vice President Joe Biden, encouraging young black voters to turn out on election day. (The video, which is part of an IG post, has since been deleted.)
Harris’ Instagram page, which has 1.2 million followers, features partnerships with Cheerios, Starburst and Walmart.
Read more on usatoday.com
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