Jerry Harris, the former star of Netflix's Cheer, was sentenced Wednesday to 12 years in prison for sex crimes involving children.
Harris pleaded guilty in February to one count of receipt of child sexual abuse material and one count of traveling with the intent to engage in illicit sexual conduct. Following his federal prison sentence, he'll be under supervised release for eight years.
Harris addressed the court Wednesday, apologizing to his victims.
"I pray that your suffering comes to an end and that these proceeding provide you with needed closure," he said, according to his lawyer in an email to BuzzFeed News. "I am ashamed, as I know that I took advantage of your youth and weakness. I was wrong and selfish. I caused you harm and I do not blame anyone. I regret my decisions and I am deeply sorry.
"All I can do going forward is to try to do better and be a better person. I do not deserve forgiveness, but I do pray that one day you might find it in your hearts. I promise you that I will not let you down and I will make my amends however you decide."
One of the victims' attorneys, Sarah Klein, said in a statement that Harris’s guilt was "firmly established" with the sentencing.
"The sentence he received reflects the severity of his crimes and the lifetime of pain his victims will suffer," she added.
One of Harris's victims, identified as Sam, read a victim impact statement after the sentencing.
“Jerry, you left me feeling so dirty and disgusted about myself," he said, adding that Harris's actions left him feeling "so trapped and responsible."
"Because I was a little kid, I had no idea what to do," he said.
Harris was arrested in September 2020 on suspicion of producing child sexual abuse material. The investigation began when a mother of 14-year-old twins found sexually explicit photos on one of her son's phones. Harris denied the allegations at the time in a statement to ABC News.
Following Harris's arrest, the boys, who are also cheerleaders, described the abuse in Season 2 of Cheer. They said Harris sent one of them photos and videos of himself masturbating.
In all, Harris "exploited and violated" more than 10 boys, federal prosecutors said in October 2020.
He allegedly used his money and popularity from Cheer to offer minors $1,000 to perform sexual acts over FaceTime and Snapchat, according to documents. In December 2020, he was charged with producing child sexual abuse images and one count of enticing a minor to engage in sexual activity.
He rose to fame after appearing on Netflix's Cheer, which followed the cheer team of Navarro College in Corsicana, Texas. Harris was one of the breakout stars, appearing regularly in interviews and commercials and even hitting the red carpet as a correspondent for The Ellen DeGeneres Show.