Cheer season 2 is out on Netflix, and let’s just say it’s a lot less cheerful than the first season. As the trailer suggested, the docuseries tackles breakout star Jerry Harris’ sexual abuse allegations head-on.
As Perezcious readers will recall, Jerry was arrested in September 2020 on child pornography charges. According to a criminal complaint, Harris allegedly contacted an underage boy on social media and repeatedly asked for sexually explicit videos and photographs. The document also alleged that the victim made it clear he was only 13 in their initial chat, something Jerry confirmed in a voluntary interview when the FBI raided his Naperville home on September 14. He has since pleaded not guilty to seven charges, including four counts of sexual exploitation of children, one count of receiving child pornography, one count of traveling with the intent to engage in illicit sexual contact with a minor, and one count of enticement.
In a harrowing midseason episode of season 2 tilted “Jerry,” Cheer sits down with coach Monica Aldama, cheerleader Gabi Butler, and two of Jerry’s accusers to break down what allegedly happened….
Victims Speak Out
For starters, twin brothers Charlie and Sam spoke to the documentary crew to share their side of the story. Charlie alleged:
“One day in December 2018, messaged me on my private Instagram account his private Instagram account.”
Charlie, who was 13 at the time, was familiar with Harris and looked up to him in the cheerleading community, something that he now says affected his ability to think critically about what he was being asked to do.
“Right off the bat, he asked me, ‘Can I have butt pics?’ Or, ‘Can you send butt pics?’ I was kind of star-struck and I didn’t want him to not like me or to not be friends with me… I was willing to do that and was kind of blindsided by his notoriety at that time. I’ve had times where if I would have, like, left him on ‘delivered’ for a couple of hours or not responded to him, or acted like a different tone that wasn’t flirty or anything, that he would make me feel bad about myself and say that I was just using him for being popular and that I didn’t actually love him.”
The next year, in 2019, Charlie allegedly met Harris in person at a cheerleading event, but at this point, he didn’t want to have a relationship with the star any longer. He explained:
“We had been messaging for a while, and I knew he was going to be at ACA, so I was trying my best to just, like, avoid him because I was just trying to avoid confrontation and just feeling uncomfortable. And I was also kind of ashamed and embarrassed that I was like, I guess, like, talking to him in that way. So, I didn’t want other people, like seeing him, like, acting weird.”
Harris supposedly confronted him in the bathroom, he continued:
“It was day one, and it was right before I was gonna go to warm-ups. And Jerry kept on harassing me and was like, ‘We should really try to find some way to hang out today or something.’ And I was like, ‘No. I don’t want to.’ But then he was like, ‘Just go with me to this bathroom.’ And then he basically – I followed him… He texted me while I was in the bathroom because it was us, and then there was, like, another person in there. And he was like, ‘Do you want to have sex?’ And I was like, ‘No. I do not.’ And he was like, ‘What about oral sex?’ And I said, ‘No. I’m not comfortable with that either.’”
Charlie went on:
“And then the other person left the bathroom, and then Jerry cornered me into the bathroom stall and basically was just like, begging me, just continually pleading with me to just, like, have sex with him. I was basically just like, ‘No. I really just do not feel comfortable with it.’”
Charlie’s demeanor changed after that encounter, the other brother, Sam, claimed:
“After he came out of the bathroom, we went to warm-ups and he just looked extremely distressed. I could tell that there was something obviously wrong with him. He just looked really stressed out and like, just frantic almost. And I didn’t find out that Jerry did that until after we competed. And it was… haunting almost to hear. And it just made me so angry and it made me lose even more faith, I guess, in having a safe community in cheer.”
Then, Harris began to message Sam, he shared:
“It made me feel super uncomfortable, and he would just continually push at that. And, like, I really didn’t know anyone else to talk to about it than just, like, the two of us. And it was just like… It almost felt like we were alone.”
The brothers went on to have a hard time focusing on school because they were overwhelmed by “odd emotions” and felt isolated from their cheer community for fear that telling the truth would lose them their friends. Charlie admitted:
“I wanted to say something about it, but I also felt so ashamed.”
The siblings’ mom, Kristen, claimed that once she found out about the messages, she also found a video of a man masturbating. While Jerry’s face was not seen, she alleges it was him, she explained:
“His face was not visible, but I asked Charlie who it was and he told me that it was Jerry.”
She quickly filed a misconduct complaint against the cheerleader on the USASF website and then the FBI. While no one in Jerry’s team participated in the docuseries, they previously released a statement to ET, saying:
“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 22-year-old is currently being held in Metropolitan Correctional Center in Chicago after being denied bail because the court determined “there is no condition or combination of conditions to reasonably assure the safety of the community .”
If convicted, he faces 15 years minimum for each count of sexual exploitation and 10 years minimum for enticement charges.
Gabi Butler & Monica Aldama
Gabi Butler, another breakout star on the Navarro College squad, opened up about the “devastating” situation her friend has wound up in, telling ET:
“I was very shocked and obviously devastated. I felt like my heart just sank to the bottom of my stomach.”
Describing it as the hardest thing she’s faced in her two years at the college, Gabi continued:
“It is very hard, like, ’cause the Jerry I knew is the Jerry that you guys saw and it was the, you know, the one that was lifting people up when they were down. He was the positive one that was always making you smile and laugh. And even on your worst day, you know, like him just being there and smiling, it was like that. That was the Jerry I knew.”
“It was a very hard time for sure.”
In the episode, Gabi recalls the moment she learned of the arrest, saying:
“I was here in my room when I got the call about Jerry. And immediately my heart, my heart completely sank. I honestly thought I was living in a bad dream. I literally couldn’t wrap, could not wrap my head around any of that. I felt like someone had just, like, died.”
While she doesn’t condone the crimes her friend allegedly committed, she’s having a hard time eliminating him from her life altogether, explaining:
“I don’t agree with what he was accused of or condone it at all. And it is very unfortunate and it breaks my heart. But it’s literally like your family. How are you gonna just hate your family? So, I feel like people expect me to be like, ‘Well, you should hate him and you should never speak to him again.’ But the thing is I can’t. Like, I cannot and I won’t. I can’t turn my back on him because he was there for me when I needed him.”
She and coach Monica are two of few who write him letters in jail, she said:
“I write to him basically the same way Monica does. I’ll hear from him every once in a while.”
Addressing what she said in the episode, Butler insisted she means every word about sticking by Jerry’s side, despite how controversial it might sound.
“What I said then is exactly how I feel to this day. Like, my feelings will never change on that and I stand very strongly in what I said. I do think that he is always going to have a place in my heart that I feel will never just go away ’cause that was my family. The whole situation, I feel, it’s very sad and obviously, cheerleading should be a safe place for everyone. It should be a safe place. So, it’s more like a ‘love the sinner, hate the sin’ type of situation. That love doesn’t just go away. But I obviously do not condone anything that happened. But his case is still open, so I’m… just kind of, like, sitting back and hoping for, like, the best.”
She’s not naive to the changes that need to be made in the sport, adding:
“I definitely do think that as a whole, there are things that need to be fixed. There are situations like this one that happen a lot more often than people even realize in cheerleading and I think that overall, yes, we can do a much better job of keeping cheerleading safe.”
Why Cheer Included The CAse
Speaking to the outlet about the decision to include the legal scandal in the Netflix series, creator and director Greg Whiteley told the outlet:
“The subject matter of course was heartbreaking and dark and difficult and complicated. But the process of a documentary team is really just the same… Our task is to cover the story of the Navarro cheer team.”
Once the crew returned to begin filming after the coronavirus lockdown, the entire mood of the team was different, he added:
“That’s something that’s never pleasant. But it’s our job. Our task is to tell the story of that team. And it would have been impossible to do that without addressing what had happened with Jerry and the allegations surrounding Jerry.”
Ultimately, Greg would have preferred to have someone from both sides of the story speak out on Jerry’s accusations, but nobody from Harris’ camp would agree.
“It was very fortunate that the twins that were part of the investigation and the mom of those twins were willing to sit with us, the reporters who broke the story were willing to sit with us. We desperately tried to get someone from Jerry’s side to sit with us to flesh out the story but unfortunately, that did not happen. They refused. But I think as difficult as it was, the muscles that we would use to tell anyone’s story were deployed here.”
Wow! Head to Netflix to see the stars react to the awful situation on camera…
Reactions, Perezcious readers? This is a lot to unpack. Let us know what you think in the comments (below).
Source: Read Full Article