Netflix responded to the arrest of “Cheers” star Jerry Harris in a Thursday statement, saying that “any abuse of minors is a terrible crime.”
“Like everyone we are shocked by this news,” a Netflix spokesperson said in a statement to the Daily Caller News Foundation Friday morning. “Any abuse of minors is a terrible crime and we respect the legal process.”
Authorities arrested 21-year-old Harris and charged him with production of child pornography Thursday, the New York Times reported. Harris, who starred in the popular Netflix docuseries about a Texas cheer squad, admitted to asking and receiving child pornography from at least 10 to 15 minors as well as having sex with a 15-year-old, according to the publication.
“Production of child pornography is punishable by a minimum sentence of 15 years in prison and a maximum of 30 years,” prosecutors said in a press release. “If convicted, the Court must impose a reasonable sentence under federal statutes and the advisory U.S. Sentencing Guidelines.”
His arrest follows debate on social media over Netflix’s “Cuties” and the film’s depictions of little girls. Netflix defended the movie in a Sept. 10 statement to the DCNF, calling the film “powerful” and “award winning.” (RELATED: ‘Graphically And Grotesquely Sexualizing Children’ Is ‘Corporate Practice’ For Netflix, Parents Television Council Says)
A review of the movie by the DCNF found that “Cuties” not only includes many close up shots of little girls’ crotches and buttocks but also shows the children viewing pornography and discussing sexual acts. Additionally, it shows one girl photographing her genitalia, among other suggestive scenes.
Director Maïmouna Doucouré said in an interview with Deadline that she hoped “Cuties” would “make a big change in this world that hypersexualizes children.”
“I really put my heart into this film,” Doucouré told Deadline. “It’s actually my personal story as well as the story of many children who have to navigate between a liberal Western culture and a conservative culture at home.”
“Hopefully they will understand that we’re actually on the same side of this battle,” she said of critics ahead of the film’s release.
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