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Jerry Harris, the Cheer Scandal, and Student Misconduct

Posted by Joseph D. Lento | Oct 12, 2020 | 0 Comments

The Netflix series Cheer, a documentary following the members and coaches of the National champion cheerleading squad from Navarro College in Corsicana, Texas, was an undeniable hit this year. Millions of people have watched the show since it premiered on January 6, 2020. Viewers breathlessly followed the co-ed squad and the rise, fall, and awe-inspiring tumbling of its members through six hours of gripping television.

One of the show's break-out stars is Jerry Harris, a black man from the Chicago suburbs who started cheering as a kid. Harris's family struggled to pay for the competitive cheering squads and private gym fees that so many middle-class families pay without a thought. When Harris's mother died while he was in high school, his cheer community rallied around him, providing financial support. Throughout all of this, Jerry was a true cheerleader on Cheer, rallying his teammates, offering emotional support, and staying positive. The New Yorker even called him a "human sunbeam." It's no wonder fans loved him.

Jerry Harris's Arrest

But Jerry Harris fell from the top of his cheerleading pedestal when federal agents arrested him on child pornography charges in early September. Federal prosecutors allege that Harris enticed an underage boy to produce sexually explicit photos and videos of himself. Police acted after twin brothers filed a lawsuit against Harris and others alleging that he sent them sexually explicit photos and cornered one of them in a bathroom, asking for oral sex.

School Consequences of the Arrest

Aside from facing serious criminal charges, Jerry Harris can also face discipline from Navarro College, where he was a member of the co-ed cheerleading squad. Many students face disciplinary procedures from their schools after an arrest, even if the arrest is unrelated to school activities. The criminal conduct itself is often a violation of the student code of conduct. Schools can discipline students with sanctions such as:

  • Suspension or expulsion;
  • Loss of on-campus housing;
  • Banning students from campus;
  • Disciplinary probation; and
  • Loss of a diploma.

Title IX Student Misconduct

Moreover, students involved in on-campus sexual misconduct or facing criminal charges for sexual misconduct on campus can also face Title IX disciplinary procedures from their school. Title IX is a federal civil rights law prohibiting sex-based discrimination in federally funded K-12 schools and colleges and universities. Sexual misconduct, rape, and sexual coercion are all considered Title IX violations. And if a school knows about the conduct, it is legally obligated to remedy the situation.

Hire an Experienced Student Discipline Advisor

In the case of Jerry Harris, the former "human sunbeam" is probably more focused on staying out of jail than worrying about his college cheerleading career. But his case is a reminder of the consequences students can face beyond penalties from the criminal justice system. If you or your child faces criminal charges or student misconduct charges, you need an experienced student discipline defense advisor. Attorney Joseph D. Lento is a seasoned criminal attorney and has handled thousands of student discipline cases across the country. He can help you. Call today at 888.535.3686 or reach out to us online.

 

About the Author

Joseph D. Lento

"I pride myself on having heart and driving hard to get results!" Joseph D. Lento has more than a decade of experience passionately fighting for the futures of his clients. Mr. Lento represents students and others in disciplinary cases and other proceedings at universities and colleges across the United States while concurrently fighting in criminal courtrooms in Philadelphia, the Pennsylvania counties, and New Jersey. Mr. Lento has helped countless students, professors, and others in academia at more than a thousand universities and colleges across the United States. He does not settle for the easiest outcome, and instead prioritizes his clients' needs and well-being. Joseph D. Lento is licensed in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York, and is admitted pro hac vice as needed nationwide.

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