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Cheer’s Monica Aldama on Learning About Jerry Harris’ Alleged Sex Crimes: ‘Took the Breath Out of Me’

Cheer's Monica Aldama on Learning About Jerry Harris' Alleged Sex Crimes: 'Took the Breath Out of Me'

Cheer star Monica Aldama is opening up about the emotional day she first learned one of her Navarro College cheerleaders, Jerry Harris, had been accused of sex crimes.

In an exclusive clip from Aldama’s interview on the Tamron Hall show Wednesday, the 49-year-old cheerleading coach reveals she was preparing for a live Dancing with the Stars show when an executive producer approached her about the allegations against Harris. Aldama competed on the 29th season of DWTS in 2020.

Since the DWTS episode was filming live, Aldama was already out of her comfort zone and feeling vulnerable, she explains to Hall, 51.

“I was on the stage. We were about to go into the full dress rehearsal and that’s when the executive producer came up to me and asked me if I had seen the headlines and, of course, I had not,” she recounts.

“I was just taken aback and it kind of took the breath out of me for a minute and all I could read is the headline. I couldn’t read the actual article. I still haven’t read the actual article … I told her I couldn’t even look at that until I got finished with the show that night,” Aldama says.

She continues, “I couldn’t read anything. I had to stay emotionally strong because I was already a wreck thinking about doing Dancing with the Stars. I just tried to hold back until I got through that night and let all the emotions pour in.”

Harris, 22, rose to fame in Cheer, a docuseries that follows Navarro College’s competitive cheerleading team, coached by Aldama. Harris, a star on the Texas team, was known for his positive demeanor and the way he inspired teammates.

In September 2020, Harris was arrested on a federal charge for allegedly producing child pornography. He is accused of “enticing an underage boy to produce sexually explicit videos and photos of himself,” according to a statement from federal officials. In December of that year, prosecutors charged Harris with receiving and attempting to receive child pornography and four counts of using, persuading, inducing and enticing a minor “to engage in sexually explicit conduct for the purpose of producing a visual depiction of such conduct,” according to an indictment obtained by the Chicago SunUSA Today and the Chicago Tribune.

He was also charged with one count of using the internet to allegedly “persuade, induce, and entice” one of the minors to engage in sexual activity. The alleged acts took place in Florida, Illinois and Texas. Harris has remained behind bars since September. He has pleaded not guilty.

Harris is also being sued by two underage twin brothers who filed a lawsuit against him for allegedly sexually abusing them and demanding nude photographs from them. His attorney has not commented on the other charges, but a spokesperson said in response to the brothers’ lawsuit in 2020, “We categorically dispute the claims made against Jerry Harris, which are alleged to have occurred when he was a teenager. We are confident that when the investigation is completed the true facts will be revealed.”

Jerry Harris

Jerry Harris
Jerry Harris
| Credit: Getty Images

Speaking to Hall, Aldama says her “heart was just all over the place” after learning about the allegations against Harris. She particularly struggled with not being “physically in Texas” with her team.

“That also was really weighing on me. You know not physically being able to be with the team and the people who I felt like we needed to lean on each other and we did as best we could,” she says.

Recalling a FaceTime call with her team to discuss the incident Aldama says, “It was awful honestly. I never witnessed sadness like that.”

Cheer is returning for its second season on Wednesday. This time around it will follow the Navarro College team as it aims to score another championship title while processing Harris’ arrest.

Tamron Hall airs weekdays on ABC. Check your local listings.