It seems too often these days that beloved movie and TV celebrities are discovered doing something underhanded and criminal behind the scenes. It seems the same has to be said of reality television’s “Cheer” star Jerry Harris, as he recently pleaded guilty to charges of sexual misconduct with a minor, while he also pleaded not guilty to several other charges. Child pornography is a complicated legal topic, as the inclusion of minors in any crime increases the severity of the penalties, and often comes with multiple charges. If you or your child has ever suffered sexual abuse or assault, you have the right to justice and financial compensation for the harm you have experienced.
What did “Cheer” star Jerry Harris do?
As for what exactly Jerry Harris did, he has pleaded guilty to two federal counts of sexual misconduct, including asking for child sexual abuse imagery (child pornography) and illegal sexual conduct with a minor. Harris had previously pleaded not guilty to all seven counts, “including four counts of sexual exploitation of children, one count of enticement, one count of receipt of child pornography and one count of travel with the intent to engage in an illicit sexual contact with a minor.”
Harris, 22, admitted to Judge Manish S. Shah that he had persuaded a seventeen-year-old to send him sexually explicit pictures for payment, and that he traveled across state lines to Florida, “for the purpose of engaging in illicit sexual conduct” with a different boy, this time fifteen years old. For admitting to this, part of his plea deal was that the rest of the charges would be dropped.
Harris’ sentencing for these crimes is set for June, but he faces a minimum of five years in prison, with the possibility of a maximum of 20 years.
What are the penalties for child sexual assault and abuse?
Child pornography is a type of sexual exploitation, and every instance of child pornography is just an encapsulated moment of sexual abuse of a child. As a crime, the sexual assault of a child is the most irreprehensible one. Per the United States Department of Justice, “Sexual abuse can include many different things, from touching a victim in a sexual manner to forcing a victim to touch the perpetrator in a sexual way to making a victim look at sexual body parts or watch sexual activity. Sexual abuse of a child is a criminal act.”
United States Code § 2251 makes it clear that it is “illegal to persuade, induce, entice, or coerce a minor to engage in sexually explicit conduct for purposes of producing visual depictions of that conduct. Any individual who attempts or conspires to commit a child pornography offense is also subject to prosecution under federal law.” The penalties of breaking this law include:
- Any first time offenders will be fined under this title and imprisoned not less than 15 years nor more than 30 years.
- Second time offenders of this law, or “the laws of any State relating to aggravated sexual abuse, sexual abuse, abusive sexual contact involving a minor or ward, or sex trafficking of children, or the production, possession, receipt, mailing, sale, distribution, shipment, or transportation of child pornography,” will be fined and sent to prison for not less than 25 years and not more than 50 years,
- Two or more prior convictions under this law, or under the laws of any State relating to the sexual exploitation of children, such person will be sent to prison for no less than 35 years and not more than life.
What to do you if your child or a loved one has been sexually abused
Once you have seen to the immediate safety and care of your child, it is important to find an attorney to take legal action. A civil lawsuit takes a look at both the impact on the victim and the accountability of the assailant. Not only can a civil lawsuit target the main perpetrator, but it can also hold others liable whose lack of oversight may have allowed for the crime to be committed.
It is also important to know that while the state may have a criminal case against the attacker, the district attorney has one priority, and that is to prosecute the offender. Your or your child’s trauma is not taken into account. They do little to protect the victim’s emotional injuries. In a civil action, the pain and suffering of the victim are considered when determining the level of compensation.
Child sexual abuse and pornography are unfortunate plagues on society. Children should be cared for and protected, not treated in such a despicable manner. Even celebrities and those we look up to cannot always be trusted. While there is darkness in the world, there is light too, and those who fight for it. Trust the Los Angeles attorneys of Taylor & Ring to provide you and your child with reliable and honest representation. Contact us through this form or by calling 310-776-6390 to arrange a free confidential consultation.
David Ring is a nationally renowned plaintiff’s personal injury trial attorney and has obtained multi-million dollar verdicts and settlements on behalf of seriously-injured individuals or families who have lost a loved one in a tragic accident. For more than 20 years, he has represented victims of sexual abuse, sexual harassment, assault, molestation and sexual misconduct in cases against a variety of employers and entities, including schools, churches and youth organizations.
He prides himself on providing aggressive, yet compassionate representation for children who have been sexually abused and women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted. Read more about David M. Ring.