CHICAGO — The “Cheer” star Jerry Harris will continue to be held in jail by orders of a judge who ruled Friday that he would be a potential “danger to the community” if released as his child-pornography case proceeds.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Heather K. McShain said Mr. Harris has “no control over his urges” and said it would be “impossible” to ensure he wouldn’t violate the conditions of his release.
Mr. Harris was charged with one count of production of child pornography on Sept. 17 and has been held at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Chicago since then.
On Wednesday, four potential custodians testified that they would be willing to house Mr. Harris, 21, if he were released on bail. At that hearing, the mother of two teenage boys who sued Mr. Harris also testified, urging Judge McShain to keep him behind bars.
Judge McShain, who took 35 minutes to read her decision, said she only considered whether Mr. Harris would be a danger to the community rather than a flight risk.
Judge McShain commended the four who offered to act as custodians of Harris, but said, “While I have no doubt that the four third-party custodians would act in good faith to attempt to protect the defendant from accessing the internet,” the type of monitoring required “would be virtually impossible.”
“I also have found that the defendant lacks control,” she added.
At one point during the hearing, the court disappeared from the feed, but the defense and prosecution remained connected, along with Mr. Harris and his supporters.
Mr. Harris, not sure of what happened, could be heard saying, “Hello, hello?” A supporter, presumably one of his potential custodians, responded by saying: “I’m here, I can hear you; love you, kiddo,” to which Harris said, “I love you too.”
Mr. Harris said “thank you” before someone alerted those on the call that they could be heard by everyone on the line. After a few minutes, the court re-established the connection and Judge McShain continued reading her decision.
Judge McShain noted that Mr. Harris overcame a difficult childhood and excelled in the cheer community, but said those positive attributes did not outweigh the allegations against him.
Prosecutors had argued in a motion filed on Tuesday that Mr. Harris had “exploited and violated at least 10 minor boys.”
Mr. Harris’s lawyers, in a motion for his release filed on Wednesday, noted that pretrial release had initially been recommended, but he had been unable to arrange for a custodian. Since Mr. Harris has identified custodians and because he is asthmatic, which places him at risk of contracting the coronavirus, they argued he should be released on bail.
His lawyers were not immediately available to comment on Friday.