by Jacob Harding
A campaign surrogate of Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden is under federal investigation for soliciting sex with minor boys.
Federal agents raided the Illinois home of Jerry Harris, who gained notoriety due to his role in the Netflix documentary Cheer, Monday afternoon as part of a probe into messages sent to minors asking for explicit photos and to meet for sex. The solicitations were flagged for authorities by the 21-year-old’s employer.
The Biden campaign had been using Harris, who has over a million followers on Instagram, as part of Biden’s push to sway young voters and “win back the internet,” Time magazine reported.
One Instagram live video of Harris and Biden was viewed nearly 300,000 times.
After publication of this article, the Instagram video was removed from the social media platform. We managed to capture a screenshot prior to its deletion.
“Together we have the power to make a real change,” Harris wrote in the June 12 post.
The criminal investigation is based on allegations brought by 14-year-old twin brothers. In interviews with USA TODAY, the boys described a pattern of harassment, both online and at cheer competitions, that started when they were 13. They said it continued for more than a year.
Those allegations were also reported to police by Varsity Brands, a private company that dominates the cheerleading industry, handling everything from uniform sales to major competitions. Harris is accused of asking one of the brothers to have sex with him in 2019 at two Varsity cheerleading competitions.
“As a result of the recent allegation, we have barred this person from having any affiliation with Varsity Brands or any of its subsidiaries or affiliates, now and in the future,” he wrote.
The brothers, Charlie and Sam, and their mother Kristen spoke with USA TODAY in August at their Texas home. USA TODAY agreed to withhold their last name because the boys are minors and alleging abuse.
The family provided USA TODAY with screenshots from five text and social media conversations between the boys and accounts they say belong to Harris. Several include messages explicitly requesting nude photos or sex. In one conversation on Snapchat, an account with the name “.jerry harris” responded to a photo of Charlie stretching his leg above his head.
“Do it naked and take a video and show me,” Harris replied privately, according to a screenshot provided to USA TODAY.
Charlie said his interactions with Harris left him struggling with anxiety. He lost sleep, his grades suffered and he cried at school.
“It was just eating me alive,” he said. “It was just making me so gross and uncomfortable. Every time I saw his name or something like that, I was just upset and ashamed about it.”
The investigation into sexual deviancy of the Netflix star comes as the streaming giant faces an uproar over its airing of Cuties, a French film that sexualizes young girls.
Top Netflix executive Bela Bajaria recently gave between $100,000 and $500,000 to cohost a fundraiser for Biden.