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'Cheer' coach Monica Aldama reacts to Jerry Harris' child pornography arrest

Harris was taken into custody on Thursday and is the subject of a criminal complaint and a civil lawsuit.
Image: Today - Season 69
Monica Aldama and Jerry Harris on Jan. 29, 2020.Nathan Congleton / TODAY
/ Source: TODAY

"Cheer" coach Monica Aldama, who is also competing on the current season of "Dancing with the Stars," has responded to the arrest of Jerry Harris, who was charged Thursday with one count of producing child pornography.

On Friday morning, the elite cheerleading coach shared a short statement on Instagram. Harris and Aldama were both prominently featured on "Cheer," a Netflix docuseries showcasing the trials of an elite Texas cheerleading squad as they competed for a national title.

"My heart is shattered into a million pieces," wrote Aldama. "I am devastated by this shocking, unexpected news. Our children must be protected from abuse and exploitation, and I'm praying hard for the victims and everyone affected."

Aldama ended her post with a plea for privacy and respect "as our family mourns during this heartbreaking time." Comments on the post have been disabled.

Aldama shared the same statement on Twitter. Navarro Cheer, the squad that was featured in the docuseries, also tweeted the same statement.

Netflix released a statement on the news, saying they were "shocked" by the events.

"Like everyone we are shocked by this news," said the streaming service. "Any abuse of minors is a terrible crime and we respect the legal process."

Harris, 21, was taken into custody at his home in Naperville, Illinois on Thursday for allegedly enticing an underage boy to produce sexually explicit videos and photos of himself, according to a news release by the U.S. Attorney's Office.

According to a criminal complaint filed in the U.S. District Court in Chicago, Harris contacted the boy on social media. The minor informed Harris that he was 13 years old during their first interaction, according to the complaint; Harris allegedly repeatedly tried to get him to send sexually explicit videos and photos.

Earlier in the week, multiple agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) visited his home during an investigation into allegations that he solicited sexually explicit photos and sex from minors, according to USA Today.

Harris has also been named in a civil lawsuit filed by the mother of 14-year-old twin brothers. The civil suit accuses Harris of soliciting oral sex from one of the brothers at a 2019 cheerleading competition and the "sexual harassment, exploitation abuse and molestation" of both boys. Harris was 19 years old at the time.

The brothers were not named in the complaint, since they are minors, but they spoke to USA Today about their experience with Harris, saying that the cheerleader is a "completely different person" on social media and detailing their interactions with him.

According to the criminal complaint, during an interview with law enforcement Harris confirmed the explicit exchanges with the brothers and admitted to attempting to entice one of them to perform oral sex, as well as soliciting and receiving child pornography on Snapchat from at least between 10 to 15 other individuals he knew were minors.

Before his arrest, a spokesperson for Harris said, "We categorically dispute the claims made against Jerry Harris, which are alleged to have occurred when he was teenager. We are confident that when the investigation is completed the true facts will be revealed." Harris' team has not responded to requests for comment following the new charges.

Harris is expected to appear in court Monday for a detention hearing.