The Jerry Harris Cheer Scandal: What Happens After a Student Arrest?

Posted by Joseph D. Lento | Oct 15, 2020 | 0 Comments

Jaw-dropping tosses and pyramids, awe-inspiring tumbling passes, and the lives of college cheerleaders gripped the nation when Cheer premiered on Netflix in January of this year. The documentary-style series focuses on the award-winning Navarro College co-ed cheerleading squad and its members' dramatic lives. The show's break-out star is Jerry Harris, a cheerleader from Naperville, Illinois, with a relentlessly positive personality and a motivating cheer for everyone.

Fans were shocked when Jerry faced charges in federal court on child pornography charges in early September. His arrest came 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. Aside from facing serious criminal charges, Jerry may also find himself facing student disciplinary charges at Navarro. Many students arrested by police can find themselves facing student disciplinary charges as well.

Student Disciplinary Charges After an Arrest

In many places, local law enforcement agencies will report student arrests to nearby colleges and universities. Even if a school doesn't have such an agreement, they can easily find out about an arrest from locally published incident reports or even other students. Don't assume that your school won't know.

Disciplinary Proceedings

Student disciplinary proceedings differ from criminal trials because the burden of proof is much lower in these proceedings. While a criminal trial requires proof of guilt "beyond a reasonable doubt," most schools only require that the administration find that you are substantially more likely guilty than not or some other lower burden of proof.

School disciplinary proceedings are also completely independent of any legal proceedings you may have faced or have yet to face. Just because you were found not guilty at trial does not mean that a school proceeding will make the same finding. In addition, because of the length of time that it can take for a criminal case to be resolved, it is all but assured that a college or university will seek to address any related school disciplinary violations long before a possible criminal case is over.  Moreover, you may not have the right to question witnesses or present your evidence as a defendant would in a courtroom. Unless you face a Title IX proceeding for sexual harassment or assault which must abide by the Title IX Final Rule, every school's disciplinary proceedings will vary widely.

Consequences of a Finding of Guilt

The sanctions your school may impose will also vary from school to school and state to state. But you may face:

  • A ban from the campus;
  • Suspension or expulsion from school;
  • Removal from certain classes;
  • Loss of on-campus housing; or
  • Revocation of your diploma.

Additionally, your guilty finding or finding of responsibility will remain on your school disciplinary records and quite possibly on your academic transcripts, which can affect your ability to transfer to another school, continue your education, or enter certain professions.

Hire an Experienced Student Discipline Attorney Advisor

While not all students accused of misconduct will face allegations as serious as those against Jerry Harris, his case is a reminder of the consequences all students can face after an arrest, even if charges are later dismissed or a court finds a student not guilty. Student disciplinary proceedings can have consequences that affect your professional and educational future. If you or your child face criminal charges or student misconduct charges, you need an experienced criminal defense attorney with extensive experience in student discipline matters as well. Attorney Joseph D. Lento is an experienced criminal defense attorney and has also handled thousands of student discipline matters 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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