The 22-year-old appeared in court, where his close friends and family spoke about his integrity and character.
After Harris completes his prison sentence, he will have to then be under a court-supervised release for eight years, Joseph D. Fitzpatrick, assistant U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, said.
According to NBC News, prosecutors fought for Harris to be sentenced for 15 years, saying that he used “his status as a competitive cheerleader, his social media persona, and eventually his celebrity and money” to persuade underage boys into sending explicit content to him.
The FBI investigated the reality star back in 2019, but he wasn’t arrested until September 2020. He was later accused of producing and soliciting child pornography after he asked two 13-year-old boys to send him nude photos over the social media platform Snapchat.
The boys’ mother reportedly found texts and a secret folder, which contained 10 explicit photos and videos of the minors naked.
“We categorically dispute the claims made against Jerry Harris, which are alleged to have occurred when he was a teenager,” one of Harris’ reps stated at the time. “We are confident that when the investigation is completed the true facts will be revealed.”
In February, Harris pleaded guilty to sex crime related charges.
But during the sentencing, the twin boys spoke out about the alleged incident.
“You literally preyed on my brother and I like some animal hungry for young children,” one said, according to theChicago Sun-Times.
“I couldn’t stand up for myself,” the boy’s brother reportedly added. “Basically, Jerry took over my life.”
Harris admitted in an interview with authorities that he exchanged sexually explicit photos with at least 10 to 15 people he knew to be minors, the New York Times reported.
According to the Sun-Times, Harris has also “admitted he offered $2,000 in payments for sexually explicit images from one minor victim, persuaded a second to send him similar images, and obtained masturbation videos from a third. He also admitted he sexually assaulted a fourth minor victim in a public bathroom.”
Before the sentencing was revealed, Harris said he was “deeply sorry for all the trauma my abuse has caused you. I pray deep down that your suffering comes to an end.”
He added, “I’m not an evil person. I’m still learning who I am and what my purpose is.”