Monica Aldama took to Instagram on Friday morning to react to her mentee Jerry Harris bring arrested for allegedly ‘enticing an underage boy to produce sexually explicit videos and photos of himself.’
The 47-year-old coach for the Navarro College cheerleading squad, who worked closely with Harris on the smash hit show Cheer, said her heart has been ‘shattered into a million pieces’ over the scandal.
‘Our children must be protected from abuse and exploitation, and I’m praying hard for the victims and everyone affected,’ she stated. ‘I am devastated by this shocking, unexpected news,’ she also wrote in white on a black background.
Speaking out: Monica Aldama took to Instagram on Friday morning to react to her mentee Jerry Harris bring arrested for allegedly ‘enticing an underage boy to produce sexually explicit videos and photos of himself.’ Seen on Monday on the DWTS set
Hard to take: The 47-year-old coach for the Navarro College cheerleading squad, who worked closely with Harris on the smash hit show Cheer, said her heart has been ‘shattered into a million pieces’ over the scandal
Monica added, ‘Please respect our privacy as our family mourns during this heartbreaking time.’
The Dancing With The Stars contestant was seen performing on Monday evening with partner Val Chmerkovskiy and has also been spotted heading to rehearsals this week.
‘Like everyone we are shocked by this news. Any abuse of minors is a terrible crime and we respect the legal process,’ Netlfix said in a statement.
On Thursday, Harris was arrested on child pornography charges, just days after 14-year-old cheerleading twin brothers in Texas filed a lawsuit alleging he solicited sexually explicit photos from them for a year and asked one of them for oral sex.
Shocking: Cheerleader Harris was arrested and charged on Thursday on production of child pornography charge; seen in January
The stars on set: From left, Aldama, Harris, Gabi Butler and La’Darius Marshall, seen in January
He faced federal court in Chicago later on Thursday and will be held until a detention hearing on Monday.
The production of child pornography charge is related to allegations of inappropriate conduct with the twin he tried to solicit oral sex from.
Prosecutors say Harris admitted in an interview with FBI agents this week that he had asked the boy, who was then 13, to send him photographs and videos of his penis and buttocks on Snapchat.
They rocketed to fame: (L-R) Oprah, Aldama, Harris, Gabi Butler, Lexi Brumback, TT Barker and Dillon Brandt during Oprah’s 2020 Vision: Your Life in Focus Tour in February in Dallas, Texas
She is keeping busy: Here Aldama is seen with dance partner Val Chmerkovskiy arriving at Dancing With The Stars on Thursday in Los Angeles after the scandal broke
Harris also allegedly admitted to soliciting explicit photos from dozens of other underage boys and engaging in a sex act with a 15-year-old at a cheer competition.
The 28-page criminal complaint related to his arrest, which came just days after the FBI raided his home in Naperville, Illinois, contains a number of screenshots of Harris’ exchanges with both twins.
The boys, Charlie and Sam, are not identified in the criminal complaint but they gave an interview to USA Today this week speaking about the allegations after filing the lawsuit.
The allegations stem from complaints made by 14-year-old twin boys in Texas who are also competitive cheerleaders. The boys, Charlie and Sam, are not identified in the criminal complaint but they gave an interview to USA Today this week speaking about the allegations
The FBI started investigating after the allegations were reported to authorities by Varsity, which is the global authority of competitive cheerleading.
Agents interviewed the two boys in late August. The mother of the twins found text messages and the explicit images and videos on her sons’ phones in February, according to the complaint.
In the criminal complaint, Harris is accused of contacting both boys on social media as early as 2018 and soliciting explicit images from both of them.
The complaint says that Harris sent this photo to one of the boys on Snapchat asking: ‘Would you ever want to ***’. The boy told authorities he interpreted this as Harris asking him to engage in sex acts
One of the boys, identified as Minor 2, told authorities that he always refused to send Harris any explicit images.
The other boy, identified as Minor 1, said he sent more than a dozen sexually explicit photos and videos to Harris, at his request, on Snapchat between December 2018 and March 2020.
Harris, who was 19 at the time, is also accused of sending the boy explicit images of himself and footage of him masturbating.
The boy claims Harris also once asked him for oral sex in bathroom when they both attended a cheer competition in February 2019.
The complaint says Harris first contacted the boy on Instagram in 2018 who told him he was only 13. Harris allegedly responded: ‘Oh ok have any pics?’, before adding the photos should be of his face and ‘booty’
Three months later, Harris allegedly sent the boy a text message saying he had ‘found a place for us to do stuff’ at another cheer competition. The boy told authorities that he understood that to mean Harris wanted to engage in sex acts with him.
The boy denied Harris’ requests for sex acts on both occasions, according to the complaint.
The complaint says Harris first contacted the boy on Instagram in 2018 who told him he was only 13.
Harris allegedly responded: ‘Oh ok have any pics?’, before adding the photos should be of his face and ‘booty’.
The boy told investigators that Harris then asked him to communicate on Snapchat going forward.
In one exchange, the boy posted a photo on social media of himself doing a cheerleading maneuver called ‘the needle’.
He told investigators that Harris forwarded him the photo on Snapchat and asked: ‘Do it naked and take a video and show me.’
The other twin, Minor 2, told investigators that Harris had contacted him on Snapchat and asked him to send ‘nude pictures’ of himself and photos ‘naked with your butt.’
Pictured above on the left is a screenshot included in the complaint of several nude photos that he allegedly sent to Harris. Harris’ face can be seen in one of the images. Pictured right is a text Harris allegedly sent the boy saying he had ‘found a place for us to do stuff’ at a cheer competition
The complaint said the exchanges between Harris and one of the boys stopped earlier this year. A text message included in the complaint shows the boy asking Harris why he had blocked him on Snapchat. ‘I don’t think we should be friends on Snap,’ Harris said
He also said Harris sent him a message asking to meet for a sexual encounter. That message was a selfie of Harris with the message: ‘Would you ever want to ***’, according to the complaint.
The boy told authorities he interpreted this as Harris asking him to engage in sex acts.
The complaint said the exchanges between Harris and Minor 1 stopped earlier this year. A text message included in the complaint shows the boy asking Harris why he had blocked him on Snapchat.
‘I don’t think we should be friends on Snap,’ Harris said. When the boy asked why, Harris responded: ‘I’m sorry for what I’ve done in the past. I don’t think it’s a good idea we be friends on Snap.’
Harris was the breakout star of the show that followed the cheerleading team from Navarro College in Corsicana, Texas, as it sought a national title.
Cheer was an instant success when it was released in January and Harris drew fans for his upbeat attitude and his encouraging ‘mat talk’.
Earlier this year, he interviewed celebrities on the red carpet at the Academy Awards for The Ellen DeGeneres Show. In the lawsuit filed by the twin boys, they described a pattern of harassment from Harris both online and at cheer competitions that they say lasted a year.
Besides accusing Harris of sexual misconduct, the lawsuit alleges that cheer organizations failed to protect the boys.