TRIGGER WARNING: This story contains disturbing details of sexual misconduct and child pornography. Reader discretion is advised.
Season 2 of the hit Netflix series Cheer (releasing on Jan. 12) is tasked with addressing Jerry Harris’ sexual misconduct charges, including a child pornography charge, and Navarro College cheer coach Monica Aldama describes a chilling letter Harris wrote to her after the allegations were made public.
“He wrote me a letter and it was hard to read,” Aldama reveals in Episode 5 of the second season of the series, titled Jerry. “His letter was optimistic… There was not one negative thing in this letter.”
“He said he hopes to one day be a motivational speaker. There are people who are great motivational speakers who did horrible things and they came full circle, and now they’re great motivational speakers. Maybe he sees himself as that, I don’t know. I just was really caught off guard at the hope he had for the future.”
The case involves victims in Florida, Texas and Illinois with acts that took place between 2017 and 2020. Harris acknowledged that he solicited and received explicit images from 10 to 15 minors, and allegedly raped a 15-year-old in 2019.
The Cheer star remains incarcerated and faces a minimum sentence of 15 years in jail for federal charges.
In Season 2 of Cheer we get to see and hear from twin brothers, Charlie and Sam, who describe the harassment by Harris when they were 13 and he was 19.
“He messaged me on my private Instagram account, on his private Instagram account,...he asked how old I was and I told him that I was 13,” Charlie reveals on the show. Harris then proceeded to ask for lewd pictures.
He goes on to explain a subsequent situation where Harris “cornered” him in the bathroom, and was “pleading” with Charlie to have sex with him.
“I wanted to say something about it but I also felt so ashamed and I was scared that if I was going to tell my mom that she would report it and I knew, at that time, that if I were to report it that I would basically, like, lose all my cheer friends,” Charlie says.
Kristen, Sam and Charlie’s mom, discovered what was happening when she saw a video Harris sent via Snapchat, but the boys weren’t ready to be the ones to publicly make these accusations during the height of Harris’ fame.
“They didn’t want to be the ones that tattled on Jerry Harris, because they knew that it would be devastating for them socially,” Kristen says in Cheer.
It was when Harris had a virtual conversation with now U.S. President Joe Biden that the twins wanted to come forward with their stories. Their mom made two reports to the U.S. All Star Federation but nothing happened, it was only when she contacted the FBI and spoke to the media that things were taken seriously.
What is particularly difficult to hear in Cheer is how much resentment the twins faced for speaking out against the popular Harris.
“After me and Sam spoke out, I mean pretty much all sense of community was completely ripped away,” Charlie says. “It was just terrible.”
“At competitions me and Sam would walk down the hallway and everyone would just be, like, staring at us, pointing at us and just be whispering, and we would just feel so uncomfortable and so different and so isolated.”
Aldama actually found out the allegation against Harris when she was on Dancing with the Stars, specially, during her first dress rehearsal for the show. But the Navarro cheer team had to take on this news back in Texas, without their leader present.
“I would have snatched him up if I ever would have known about any of this stuff,” La’Darius Marshall, who we saw was quite close to Harris in Season 1 of Cheer, says in Season 2.
“I don’t care how famous you are, I don’t care how much money you’ve got, I don’t care how much people love you, that don’t give you the right to do stuff like this. Especially the one of your best friends you know went through something like that.”
'It’s her turn to be accountable'
While the Jerry Harris case is certainly what a lot of people are waiting to see, it’s the fame of the Navarro College cheerleaders, and Aldama, that’s a source of tension throughout Season 2. The new season poses the question, is Navarro too distracted with their newfound fame to actually win at Daytona?
Navarro cheerleaders, who were going through the Harris news cycle and the COVID-19 pandemic, also felt forgotten by their coach.
“When she came back from Dancing with the Stars, it was almost like she forgot where she came from,” La’Darius Marshall, who was very vocal on social media, and in Season 2 of Cheer, about his disdain for Navarro cheer and Aldama, says in the series.
“Her favourite line is, be accountable for your actions. It’s her turn to be accountable.”
While you very much rooted for Navarro in Season 1, it’s not so clear cut in Season 2, as we learn more about the fellow Texas rivals, Trinity Valley.
Just like in Season 1 where we learned about the personal lives and upbringing of some of these star cheerleaders, Season 2 has a similar format as we dive into the personal lives of new members of the Navarro team, but also Trinity Valley.
The series is set up so you don’t completely lose your alliance to Navarro, but you’re also put in a position where you want the "underdogs" from Trinity Valley to succeed, who aren’t busy with advertising campaigns, signing with agents and doing interviews.