A judge ordered Jerry Harris to remain in jail after the Netflix "Cheer" star was arrested on a child pornography charge in Illinois.
The judge issued her ruling Friday, two days after prosecutors argued that the 21-year-old reality show star should remain in federal custody in Chicago, calling him a "clear and present danger to the community, most notable defenseless children."
They said Harris "targeted young boys by reaching into their bedrooms through his cell phone and used guilt, threats and money to persuade them to engage in sexually explicit activity."
Harris' attorney Todd Pugh asked that Harris be released on home monitoring under the care of four third-party custodians, two of whom were in court Wednesday. Pugh said Harris would not have access to the internet.
Judge Heather McShane said Harris cannot or is unwilling to control his behavior and ordered he remain in jail.
“On behalf of our clients and the other victims of Jerry Harris, we thank the court for keeping Mr. Harris in custody," attorney Sarah Klein said in a statement. "This ruling will not only ensure the protection of other children and the community, but it sends the message that the allegations made by our clients and Mr. Harris’s other victims are being taken very seriously. It sends the message that, by coming forward, our clients’ and other victims’ trust in law enforcement and legal systems was well-placed. And this ruling makes absolutely certain that Mr. Harris cannot hurt any other children while he awaits trial.”
In an unusual moment during the hearing, which was conducted via phone, supports of Harris could be heard saying "love you kiddo" and "stay strong."
"Know that you are loved.... we will stand in your corner and we will never leave your side," one person is heard saying before the call went silent.
Harris has been in U.S. Marshal custody after waiving an earlier detention hearing until he could find a suitable home should he be released on bond.
Harris was arrested and charged with one count of production of child pornography last month.
According to a criminal complaint, the 21-year-old Naperville resident is accused of "enticing an underage boy to produce sexually explicit videos and photos of himself." The boy the complaint refers to was 13 at the time, according to the attorney's office.
The mother of two of Harris' alleged victims spoke in court Wednesday saying he should not "reside in a comfortable bed being cared for by cheer moms while my children are paying a horrible price for telling the truth."
Harris had been facing accusations of sexual misconduct after being named in a sexual exploitation lawsuit last week.
According to attorney John Manly, two children filed a federal lawsuit against Harris and the United States All-Star Federation, a cheerleading organization, saying that Harris “tried to engage” the boys in sex.
“My clients’ mother found inappropriate texts from Mr. Harris on the child’s phone, involving sex,” Manly said.
Harris was a fan favorite of “Cheer,” which followed the cheerleaders of Navarro College in Corsicana, Texas, as they prepared for a national competition.
Navarro Cheer tweeted that it was "devastated by this shocking, unexpected news."
"Our children must be protected from abuse & exploitation, & we are praying hard for the victims and everyone affected," the tweet read. "Please respect our privacy as our family mourns together."
Manly says Harris met his clients through the world of cheerleading.
Harris’ attorney issued a statement denying the allegations in the lawsuit, but no statements have been made regarding the criminal charges or a potential plea from Harris.
“(We) categorically dispute the claims made against Jerry Harris, which are alleged to have occurred when he was a teenager,” the attorney said. “We are confident that when the investigation is completed, the true facts will be revealed.”
Manly says that Harris was legally an adult when the alleged texts occurred.
“He was an adult during this, and took advantage of these children,” he said. “Frankly, it is my clients’ hope that he goes to jail for what he did.”
According to the U.S. Attorney's office, production of child pornography charges carry a sentence of up to 30 years in prison, if convicted.
The FBI late last month sought the public's help in identifying any potential additional victims of Harris.
Investigators are "specifically seeking individuals who were under the age of 18 when Harris asked them to produce or view sexually graphic images or engage in sexual contact," the FBI said in a statement.
The agency announced a website where victims can find report contact with Harris through an online questionnaire, as well as find resources.
The FBI said contact may have occurred in person or through social media accounts linked to Harris, including the Snapchat username "jerry_714" and the Instagram account " __jcoleofficial."