It was just really weird for me – especially being the first instance that stuff has ever happened to me. It was weird to me that that was my first one.
“It was just really weird for me – especially being the first instance that stuff has ever happened to me,” Charlie said. “ It was weird to me that that was my first one.”
Both brothers said Harris asked them for nude photos but that Harris was more aggressive with Charlie. Charlie said he declined but that Harris pressured him to reconsider and threatened to un-friend or block him if he didn’t comply. Eventually, Charlie said, he did what Harris asked.
“I don’t like when people are mad at me,” Charlie said. “So I was trying to please him any way I could.”
Charlie said he joined cheer the year after his brother, hoping to experience the same friendships and accepting atmosphere that had made Sam so happy. Instead, he said his experience has been marred by his interactions with Harris. Charlie said he spent cheerleading competitions avoiding Harris, who would walk up, hug him and grab his butt.
In , Charlie said, Harris cornered him in a secluded bathroom at the American Cheerleaders Association’s national competition in Fort Worth and begged him to have sex. Harris was 19, and Charlie was 13. Charlie said he turned Harris down and eventually rushed out of the bathroom.
Three months later, Charlie said Harris propositioned him again while they were at The Summit cheerleading competition in Orlando, Florida. The family provided USA TODAY with the , text Charlie said he received from Harris.
She said she reconsidered that decision a few months later, after the boys told her they both had been sexually assaulted by a cheerleading coach, Shaquille Brown, at a party in May
When Netflix released “Cheer” in January, Charlie said people who knew of their friendship begged him to FaceTime Harris and allow them to say hello. He said Harris agreed – if Charlie agreed to send him nude photos.
“Would you ever want to ****” Harris asked Sam in a Snapchat message Feb. 6 that included what appeared to be the upper part of Harris’ face.
Complaints to police and USASF
The boys’ mother Kristen said she discovered some of the explicit messages between Charlie and Harris on her son’s cellphone earlier this year. She said one was a video of Harris masturbating.
In horror, the Texas woman said she told Charlie to immediately delete all of it. She told USA TODAY that she wishes she hadn’t done that now. But at the time, she said, she felt sympathy for Harris, who she learned through the Netflix documentary had lost his mother to cancer. She said she also read a once text message from Harris to Charlie – “I’m sorry for what I’ve done in the past,” Harris wrote. – and felt he was remorseful.
“It just felt like the best thing at that point was to just let things be and make sure that Charlie understood that he wasn’t to have further communication with Jerry,” Kristen said.
Another athlete had witnessed the coach allegedly abusing Sam, and a gym owner reported it to USASF. Kristen reported the assault to police. Brown was arrested in July for sexual assault of a child and has been suspended by U.S. All Star Federation.
Kristen said the situation with Brown made her realize that what had happened with Harris was not an isolated incident. She worried it was part of a pervasive problem in cheerleading that would only be addressed if she took action.