Gabi Butler and La’Darius Marshall shared emotional statements in the wake of their Cheer costar Jerry Harris‘ arrest on child pornography charges.
Butler, 22, posted a lengthy message via Instagram on Friday, September 18. “Like most of you, I am shocked, dismayed and deeply saddened by the recent news concerning my friend,” she wrote. “Ever since I heard the news I have gone back and forth between sobbing uncontrollably and trying to wrap my head around why something like this could happen.”
The cheerleader continued, “To be clear, although I have been a close friend and teammate with Jerry, I was never aware of anything like that he has been accused of taking place. I believe the protection of children is more important than ever in today’s world.”
Later that day, Marshall, 22, also spoke out about the incident via Instagram.“I feel as though I have had the wind knocked out of me,” the Netflix star wrote. “How could this happen? As a victim of sexual abuse as a child, I know all too well the pain of experiencing this type of abuse and the difficulties it can create for life after such trauma.”
He added, “My heart goes out to all who may be affected by this behavior from adults.”
Us Weekly confirmed on Thursday, September 17, that Harris, 21, was arrested on child pornography charges after making headlines for allegedly soliciting sex from minors.
Earlier this week, USA Today published an exposé, in which 14-year-old twin boys alleged the Navarro College student harassed them both online and in-person at cheer competitions when they were 13 years old. The brothers, who shared screenshots of text messages and Snapchat conversations with USA Today, claimed the harassment continued for a year.
Varsity Brands, a private company in the cheerleading industry, also reported the college athlete to police in Florida and Texas after he allegedly asked one of the brothers to have sex with him at two separate Varsity competitions in 2019.
The FBI conducted a three-hour search of Harris’ home in Naperville, Illinois, on Monday, September 14. Before his arrest, a spokesperson for Harris denied the allegations.
“We categorically dispute the claims made against Jerry Harris, which are alleged to have occurred when he was a teenager,” the rep said in a statement to Us. “We are confident that when the investigation is completed the true facts will be revealed.”
Harris’ cheerleading coach, Monica Aldama, also broke her silence about the scandal via Instagram on Friday.
“My heart is shattered into a million pieces,” the Cheer star, 50, wrote. “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. Please respect our privacy as our family mourns during this heartbreaking time.”
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