A person featured on a series offered by the embattled streaming giant Netflix has been arrested on a complaint he produced child pornography.
Jeremiah “Jerry” Harris, who is featured as a student in the popular Netflix documentary series “Cheer,” was arrested after he was initially accused of sexually exploiting 14-year-old twin brothers, CNN reported Thursday.
One brother told USA Today in an interview that Harris asked one of the twins to have sex with him last year at a cheerleading competition for the company Varsity Brands, which is influential in the cheerleading industry.
The report said the brothers “described a pattern of harassment, both online and at cheer competitions, that started when they were 13 and Harris was 19. They said it continued for more than a year.”
A federal prosecutor in Illinois told CNN on Thursday that the 21-year-old Harris has been arrested on a charge of production of child pornography.
U.S. Attorney Joseph Fitzpatrick said Harris had a federal court appearance scheduled for Thursday afternoon in Chicago.
The adult cheerleader has denied any wrongdoing through a representative.
“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 representative said.
Harris recently appeared on video with Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden in a social media spot to encourage young black voter turnout in the 2020 election.
That social media post appears to have been taken down.
“Cheer” was well-received by Hollywood critics. It was named Best Unstructured Series at the Critics Choice Real TV Awards in June, and Harris was named Male Star of the Year.
Congratulations to @Jerry_K2TR from @NavarroCollege #NavarroCheer! The fans have voted and #JerryHarris is Male Star of the Year! https://t.co/E8Y7LCsD3d#CriticsChoice #RealTVAwards pic.twitter.com/TAPO4qGhdp
— Critics’ Choice (@CriticsChoice) June 29, 2020
Netflix had not commented on Harris’ arrest early Thursday afternoon.
The high-profile arrest comes as the streamer is embroiled in controversy over its decision to add the film “Cuties” to its platform.
“Cuties” features preteen girls in sexualized clothing and dancing positions.
Netflix hyped the film before its release, writing in a summary, “Amy, 11, becomes fascinated with a twerking dance crew. Hoping to join them, she starts to explore her femininity, defying her family’s traditions.”
The scandal has created a movement online to cancel Netflix subscriptions and has led a number of lawmakers to call for a Justice Department investigation into the company, or otherwise disavow its decision to offer content which sexualizes children.
Following @netflix’s disturbing promotion of “Cuties,” I sent a letter calling on @TheJusticeDept to investigate whether Netflix, its executives, or the filmmakers violated any federal laws against the production and distribution of child pornography. pic.twitter.com/P7wLXixU6X
— Senator Ted Cruz (@SenTedCruz) September 12, 2020
A petition to boycott the streamer had over 650,000 signatures as of Thursday.
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