In January of 2020, Netflix's new reality series Cheer entranced the nation. Millions of people followed the championship Navarro College cheerleading squad's lives and loves through the hit series. Between jaw-dropping flips, impossible tosses, and awe-inspiring pyramids, the series follows the likable young adult cheerleaders, many from troubled backgrounds, on their journey to a national championship. One of the series's breakout stars was Jerry Harris, a cheerleader from Naperville, Illinois, with an impossibly positive outlook on life. Fans of the Cheer loved him, and the New Yorker even called him a “human sunbeam.”
So, fans were stunned when federal agents arrested Harris on child pornography charges in September of 2020. Police acted after underage twin brothers filed suit against Harris, alleging that he solicited pornographic images and cornered one of them in a bathroom asking for oral sex. Harris faces multiple felony charges, including sexual exploitation of children and transportation with the intent for illicit sexual contact.
This month, nearly five months after Harris's arrest, two more cheerleaders featured in the Netflix series face sexual misconduct charges. Chesterfield, Virginia county police arrested Robert Scianna Jr., a 25-year-old coach and choreographer, on felony counts of taking indecent liberties with a child and using an electronic communication device to solicit sex. Police say he arranged to meet a minor he met through social media for sex. In a separate case, the Dallas County Sheriff's Department arrested Mitchell Ryan, a member of the Navarro squad featured on Cheer, with felony aggravated sexual assault of a child after an incident allegedly occurred July 24, 2020.
Charges Off-Campus, Repercussions On-Campus
Harris, Ryan, and Scianna are undoubtedly more concerned about defending their criminal charges than they are a future in cheerleading. But it's important to note that students and faculty can face repercussions on-campus even if a court never convicts them of a crime. Both Harris and Ryan were students at Navarro College and thus subject to the school's code of conduct. In addition to serious criminal charges, they could also face disciplinary action from their school. Sanctions could include punishments such as:
- Loss of student housing
- Loss of diploma
Title IX Misconduct
Students facing sexual violence-related criminal charges could also face Title IX disciplinary actions for campus misconduct or at an official off-campus school event. Title IX is a federal civil rights law prohibiting sex-based discrimination in federally funded schools, including colleges and universities. Things such as sexual assault, sexual harassment, stalking, coercion, and other sexual misconduct can all be Title IX violations. In many cases, if schools know about misconduct by students or staff under Title IX, they are obligated to investigate and take action.
Hire an Experienced Student Defense Attorney-Advisor
Most students won't face charges as serious as Harris's child pornography charges or Ryan and Scianna's sexual misconduct charges involving juveniles. However, their cases remind us that criminal charges outside of school can still have disciplinary repercussions back on campus. If you or your child face misconduct charges on campus or a criminal arrest off campus, you need an experienced student discipline attorney-advisor. Attorney Joseph D. Lento is a seasoned criminal defense attorney, and more importantly, he has handled thousands of student discipline cases across the country. His unparalleled experience includes successfully handling hundreds of Title IX sexual misconduct cases nationwide - cases which are complex and emotional with everything at stake. He can help you. Call today at 888.535.3686 or reach out to us online.