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Jerry Harris from ‘Cheer’ under FBI investigation for allegedly soliciting nude photos, sex from minors. A search warrant has been executed.

The FBI is investigating allegations that celebrity cheerleader Jerry Harris solicited sexually explicit photos and sex from minors, multiple sources told USA TODAY. Agents executed a search warrant Monday afternoon at a home in Naperville, Illinois, as part of that investigation.

“The FBI is conducting court-authorized law enforcement activity in the area,” Siobhan Johnson, FBI special agent and public affairs officer, told USA TODAY. She declined further comment.

Harris, who gained national prominence when he was featured in Netflix’s recent “Cheer” docuseries, has not been criminally charged. Harris, 21, did not respond to a request for comment.

The criminal investigation is based on allegations brought by 14-year-old twin brothers. In interviews with USA TODAY, the boys described a pattern of harassment, both online and at cheer competitions, that started when they were 13 and Harris was 19. They said it continued for more than a year.

FBI executes a search warrant at a home in Naperville, Illinois. on Sept. 14, 2020. The search is part of an investigation into allegations that Netflix “Cheer” star Jerry Harris solicited nude photos and sex from minors.SANDY HOOPER, USA TODAY

Those allegations were also reported to police by Varsity Brands, a private company that dominates the cheerleading industry, handling everything from uniform sales to major competitions. Harris is accused of asking one of the brothers to have sex with him in 2019 at two Varsity cheerleading competitions.

In Aug. 1 letters to police in Florida and Texas, Varsity’s Chief Legal Officer Burton Brillhart said the company had learned of “inappropriate sexual conduct” allegations against Harris and was reporting the information to authorities as required by law.

The FBI is investigating reports made to police in Texas and Florida by two 14-year-old boys who claim Netflix “Cheer” star Jerry Harris solicited sexually explicit photos and sex.
SANDY HOOPER AND ALEXIS ARNOLD, USA TODAY

“As a result of the recent allegation, we have barred this person from having any affiliation with Varsity Brands or any of its subsidiaries or affiliates, now and in the future,” he wrote.

He described Harris as a former employee who was not actively working for Varsity at the time of the incidents. In May 2019, Harris posted on social media that he was working for the National Cheerleaders Association, a Varsity brand. That summer, he posted multiple photos and videos of himself coaching athletes at NCA camps.

Varsity spokeswoman Jackie Kennedy said Monday the organization “can’t comment on an active law enforcement investigation; we continue to cooperate with authorities in their inquiries on this matter.”

Twins Charlie, left, and Sam at their home in Texas. The brothers allege that celebrity cheerleader, Jerry Harris, solicited them for sex and sexually explicit…

The brothers, Charlie and Sam, and their mother Kristen spoke with USA TODAY in August at their Texas home. USA TODAY agreed to withhold their last name because the boys are minors and alleging abuse.

The family provided USA TODAY with screenshots from five text and social media conversations between the boys and accounts they say belong to Harris. Several include messages explicitly requesting nude photos or sex. In one conversation on Snapchat, an account with the name “.jerry harris” responded to a photo of Charlie stretching his leg above his head.

McDonald’s accuses ex-CEO Steve Easterbrook of hiding sexual relationships with employees and sending nude photos, videos

McDonald’s accused former CEO Steve Easterbrook of engaging in sexual relationships with three employees and conspiring to keep photographic and video evidence of those relationships secret in a willful violation of the company’s human resources policies.

The fast-food giant said Monday that it had filed a lawsuit against Easterbrook, seeking to disgorge him of compensation that he retained when the company’s board dismissed him without cause in November.

The company said in a public filing that an internal investigation recently discovered “dozens of nude, partially nude or sexually explicit photographs and videos of various women, including photographs of these Company employees, that Easterbrook had sent as attachments to messages from his Company e-mail account to his personal e-mail account.”

McDonald’s said Easterbrook had “lied to the Company and the Board and destroyed information regarding” his behavior, which allegedly occurred in 2018 and 2019.

It was not immediately clear Monday how to reach Easterbrook for comment.

McDonald’s accused former CEO Steve Easterbrook of engaging in sexual relationships with three employees and conspiring to keep photographic and video evidence of those relationships secret in a willful violation of the company’s human resources policies.

The fast-food giant said Monday that it had filed a lawsuit against Easterbrook, seeking to disgorge him of compensation that he retained when the company’s board dismissed him without cause in November.

The company said in a public filing that an internal investigation recently discovered “dozens of nude, partially nude or sexually explicit photographs and videos of various women, including photographs of these Company employees, that Easterbrook had sent as attachments to messages from his Company e-mail account to his personal e-mail account.”

McDonald’s said Easterbrook had “lied to the Company and the Board and destroyed information regarding” his behavior, which allegedly occurred in 2018 and 2019.

It was not immediately clear Monday how to reach Easterbrook for comment.

New York attorney general files lawsuit to shut down the NRA

ALBANY – New York state’s top legal officer is trying to force the National Rifle Association to shut down, accusing leaders of the powerful gun lobby of wasting millions of dollars on tropical trips, lavish meals and private jets.

Attorney General Letitia James filed a lawsuit Thursday in state court against the NRA, longtime CEO Wayne LaPierre and three other organizational leaders, laying out a wide array of alleged wrongdoing she says is enough to force the nonprofit to shut down.

The NRA has been chartered in New York since the late 19th century, which grants James significant leverage over the association as she seeks to shut it down for violating state laws governing charities and nonprofits.

All told, James accused the NRA leaders of wasteful, unchecked spending that helped lead the organization to turn a $27.8 million surplus in 2015 to a $36.3 million net deficit in 2018.

“The NRA’s influence has been so powerful that the organization went unchecked for decades while top executives funneled millions into their own pockets,” James said in a statement. “The NRA is fraught with fraud and abuse, which is why today we seek to dissolve the NRA, because no organization is above the law.”

James’ lawsuit accuses the NRA and its leaders of a lawbreaking and lavish spending that has jeopardized the longstanding organization’s financial standing.

Among the allegations laid out in the suit:

  • LaPierre, NRA’s chief executive and executive vice president since 1991, and his family are accused of traveling to the Bahamas on a private charter at least eight times over three years, costing the NRA $500,000. On some of those trips, an NRA vendor allowed him to use a 107-foot yacht.
  • LaPierre is also accused of spending more than $3.6 million in NRA funds on black car services and travel consultants in just the last two years, as well as teeing up a post-employment contract worth more than $17 million.
  • Former treasurer and CFO Wilson “Woody” Phillips is alleged to have set up a $1.8 million consulting deal for himself just before his retirement, as well as overseeing an arrangement that saw Ackerman McQueen, an advertising and PR firm, pay for NRA leaders’ entertainment and travel costs before billing the organization. That arrangement is subject of a separate legal dispute.

Also named in the lawsuit are former NRA Chief of Staff Joshua Powell and current Corporate Secretary and General Counsel John Frazer.

Former Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain dies after battle with COVID-19

WASHINGTON — Former Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain died after a battle with COVID-19, according to posts on his Twitter account and on his website. 

“Herman Cain – our boss, our friend, like a father to so many of us – has passed away,” wrote Dan Calabrese, the editor of Cain’s website

“Herman was 74. Although he was basically pretty healthy in recent years, he was still in a high-risk group because of his history with cancer,” he continued. 

Cain, who also served as the co-chair of Black Voices for Trump, was hospitalized at the beginning of July after developing coronavirus symptoms.

He attended President Donald Trump’s controversial rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, at the end of June. Local health officials had called for the event’s cancellation out of fears it could become a “super-spreader” event, and the head of the Tulsa Health Department later acknowledged the rally and surrounding protests had likely contributed to a surge in cases in Tulsa. 

As recently as Monday, an update on Cain’s website said he was still being treated with oxygen, but his organs were “strong.” 

“He really is getting better, which means it is working,” the post said. 

Federal agents deploying to Detroit, Cleveland, Milwaukee as Trump administration expands crime-fighting initiative

WASHINGTON – The Justice Department plans to send nearly 100 federal agents and officers to Detroit, Michigan, Cleveland, Ohio, and Milwaukee, Wisconsin, as part of Operation Legend, a federal crime initiative that began earlier this month and has since been expanded to several cities. 

The department will send agents 42 to Detroit and more than 25 each to Cleveland and Milwaukee – cities that officials said have seen rising violent crime rates. The federal officers, drawn from the FBI, Drug Enforcement Administration and other agencies, will help local and state officials in ongoing criminal investigations, according to the Justice Department.

The announcement comes as state and local officials, drawing from the unrest in Portland, Ore., are increasingly skeptical and apprehensive of a surge of federal law enforcement resources to their cities. Attorney General William Barr has defended the expansion of Operation Legend, saying it’s targeting cities with problems with violent crime, and the deployments are different from the surge of officers in Portland, where protesters and federal agents have clashed as demonstrations over the death of George Floyd at the hands of a police officer have stretched into several weeks.

“Given the events that have taken place in Portland over the last few nights, I am extremely concerned that President Trump is looking for opportunities to create more political division in cities across the nation. Federal agents are not welcome here for that purpose,” Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett said last week. “If the federal presence is to truly cooperate with local law enforcement, then it is imperative the limits of their activities are clearly delineated and monitored.”

Miami Marlins’ 2020 season suspended by Major League Baseball after COVID-19 outbreak among players, coaches

The Miami Marlins’ season was suspended by Major League Baseball amid an outbreak of COVID-19 cases that resulted in 15 players and two staff members testing positive from Friday to Tuesday, the league announced Tuesday afternoon.

The action is a remarkable but pragmatic pause, sidelining one of the 30 MLB teams attempting to play a 60-game schedule through a pandemic, with one potential outcome being that the Marlins – and their upcoming opponents – may not play the season in full. 

“The health and safety protocols were designed with a challenging circumstance like the one facing the Marlins in mind,” MLB said in a statement. “The response outlined in the joint MLB-MLBPA Operations Manual was triggered immediately upon learning of the cluster of positive cases, including contact tracing and the quarantining and testing of all of the identified close contacts.

“The Marlins’ personnel who tested positive remain in isolation and are receiving care.”

PROTOCOL: MLB teams aim to tighten behavior after outbreak

MARLINS: MLB season suddenly in jeopardy after outbreak

MLB noted that no other club has had a positive COVID-19 test in the week beginning Friday; in the previous seven-day cycle, four players and two staffers tested positive out of more than 10,000 samples, a positivity rate of 0.05%.

The Marlins’ outbreak had already resulted in a handful of postponements Monday and Tuesday: Two Marlins games against the Baltimore Orioles in Miami, and a pair of Phillies-New York Yankees games in Philadelphia, site of the Marlins’ three-game weekend series. 

Now, the Marlins will have up to seven games to make up: Four against the Orioles and three against the Washington Nationals, their weekend opponents in Miami. 

“After receiving additional test results on our Major League team this morning, we reached out to the Commissioner’s Office with concern for the health and safety of our team as well as our opponents,” Marlins CEO Derek Jeter said in a statement.

“We look forward to returning to Miami where we conducted a successful and healthy Spring 2.0 before departing on the road and experiencing challenges.”

Meanwhile, more pieces began moving to accommodate teams jamming as many games in a 66-day calendar as possible. 

The Yankees, also marooned in Philadelphia since Monday, will now travel south and play two games against the Orioles at Camden Yards on Wednesday and Thursday. That leaves the Phillies without an opponent until Friday, and with four games against the Yankees to make up.

Monday is an off day for the Marlins, Nationals and Phillies, while the Orioles and Yankees were scheduled to play in Baltimore. Conceivably, the Marlins could use Monday to play a makeup game (or doubleheader) against the Nationals or Orioles, freeing the Phillies and Yankees to make up one or two of their four postponed games this week. 

Of course, all this flexibility is greatly aided by the fact games are being played without fans in attendance, rendering such key factors as site and opponent virtually moot.

That’s important, as the Marlins may not have a home in which they can return.

Hours before the Marlins’ season suspension, the Nationals’ players voted not to travel to Miami for the weekend games, expressing the level of concern among players and manager Dave Martinez that he said “went from an eight to a 12” in the wake of the Marlins’ outbreak. 

That point now appears moot, as the Marlins won’t have a scheduled game until next Tuesday at home against the Phillies, although they could use Monday’s off day as a makeup date. 

It may be with an entirely new team, in essence. 

Fifteen Marlins will be sidelined for a period likely no less than two weeks and probably longer, given the return times of the more than 100 hundred MLB players who have tested positive for COVID-19. Each player will have to test negative twice in a span of more than 24 hours in order to return. 

The Marlins reportedly testing positive include their top position player, Miguel Rojas, starting catcher Jorge Alfaro, pitcher Jose Urena, designated hitter Garrett Cooper and outfielder Harold Ramirez.

Miami mayor Carlos Gimenez recommended in a Tuesday press conference that all Marlins players quarantine for 14 days upon their return to South Florida, although the ultimate authority may reside with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. 

Either way, these Marlins will bear little resemblance to the club that won two of its first three games of the year.

They’ll need to dip significantly into their reserve player pool; as part of MLB’s protocols for the 2020 season, teams are allowed 60 eligible players, with the 27 not with the major league team headquartered at an alternate training site. 

Mixing ostensibly quarantined players from their alternate site with players who were just around a spreading event in the big league clubhouse could have been a recipe for disaster, as negative tests for the coronavirus is no guarantee the person has been infected. 

Whether MLB and the Marlins opt for an aggressive but probably appropriate approach of quarantining the remaining major league players for 10 to 14 days, per Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations, remains to be seen.


Rep. John Lewis, a civil rights icon who began pushing for racial justice in the Jim Crow south, has died

WASHINGTON – Rep. John R. Lewis, the civil rights icon whose fight for racial justice began in the Jim Crow south and ended in the halls of Congress, died Friday night.

The Georgia lawmaker had been suffering from Stage IV pancreatic cancer since December. He was 80.

The son of Alabama sharecroppers, Lewis served in Congress for more than three decades, pushing the causes he championed as an original Freedom Rider challenging segregation, discrimination and injustice in the Deep South – issues reverberating today in the Black Lives Matter movement.

Along with Martin Luther King Jr., he was an organizer of the March on Washington in 1963, a seminal moment in the Civil Rights Movement that led to the passage of voting rights for Blacks two years later.

He became a community activist and member of the Atlanta City Council before winning a seat in Congress in 1986. He would go on to become a best-selling author and in 2011 was awarded the nation’s highest civilian award, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, by Barack Obama, the nation’s first Black president. Lewis was elected to his 17th term in November 2018.

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg says she’s receiving treatment for liver cancer

WASHINGTON – Supreme Court Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg announced Friday she is battling cancer again, just days after she was hospitalized for a possible infection.

The 87-year-old Ginsburg, a four-time cancer survivor who announced in January that she was cancer-free, said a periodic scan and a biopsy revealed lesions on her liver, but chemotherapy treatment that began in May is “yielding positive results.” Her most recent scan last week showed “significant reduction” of the lesions, the justice said in a brief statement.

“I am tolerating chemotherapy well and am encouraged by the success of my current treatment,” Ginsburg said. “I will continue bi-weekly chemotherapy to keep my cancer at bay, and am able to maintain an active daily routine. Throughout, I have kept up with opinion writing and all other court work.”

This is Ginsburg’s fifth bout with cancer, following colon cancer in 1999, pancreatic cancer in 2009, lung cancer in 2018 and more pancreatic cancer last year. Still, she said she would stay on the court “as long as I can do the job full steam,” a phrase she has used many times in the past.

For years, Ginsburg’s health has been a concern for Democrats who worry that the high court’s 5-4 conservative majority could be expanded if she were to leave the bench before the November presidential election. Even if Democrats sweep to victories, Republicans will control the Senate at least until Jan. 3, and President Donald Trump will be in office at least until Jan. 20.

More:Supreme Court Justices Gorsuch, Kavanaugh display independent streaks

Ginsburg said her recent hospitalizations to remove gall stones and treat an infection were unrelated to her cancer. 

Ginsburg was taken to Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore earlier this week after she experienced fever and chills. She was treated for an infection and underwent an endoscopic procedure to clean out a bile duct stent that was inserted last August.

She had been hospitalized in May following an infection caused by a benign gallbladder condition, the Supreme Court said. 

Leader of the liberals 

Ginsburg, the second-longest-serving justice on the bench, was nominated by President Bill Clinton in 1993. She is the leader of the court’s liberal wing, which includes Associate Justices Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan.

That group is outnumbered by five conservative justices, led by Chief Justice John Roberts, who has become the center of the court. To his right are Associate Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh.

More:Year of surprise Supreme Court rulings shows influence of Chief Justice John Roberts

Should a vacancy occur on the court while Trump and Republicans remain in power, the leading candidates likely are federal appeals court judges Amul Thapar of Kentucky and Amy Coney Barrett of Indiana.

Known fondly to her vast network of supporters as simply “RBG” or the “Notorious RBG,” Ginsburg emerged from three weeks of radiation treatment for pancreatic cancer last fall by traveling the nation giving speeches, staging conversations and accepting awards and honorary degrees. 

“As cancer survivors know, that dread disease is a challenge, and it helps to know that people are rooting for you. Now, it’s not universal,” she quipped in September at the famed 92nd Street Y in New York City. She vowed to stay on the job “as long as I’m healthy and mentally agile.”

Ginsburg must remain on the nation’s highest court at least until January to avoid giving Trump and a Republican-controlled Senate the opportunity to replace her. Such a  scenario could give conservatives a 6-3 hold on the high court – solidifying their majority, perhaps for decades to come.

Ginsburg’s predicament is similar to that faced by the court’s last civil rights pioneer, Associate Justice Thurgood Marshall, in 1991. With his health declining as he approached his 83rd birthday, he retired during the third year of Republican George H.W. Bush’s presidency. 

Marshall ultimately lived four days into the administration of Democratic President Bill Clinton. But by then his seat was held by Thomas, now the court’s longest-serving and most conservative justice.

Rarely misses court

Ginsburg has shown no similar signs of “coming apart,” as Marshall described himself in a calamitous 1991 press conference, though she did miss the first oral arguments of her career early in 2019 while recovering from lung cancer surgery. In May, she participated in oral arguments by telephone from the hospital.

Before her fourth cancer was diagnosed, Ginsburg had said she hoped to stay on the bench for at least five more years, noting that the late Associate Justice John Paul Stevens served until age 90. Stevens died a year ago at 99.

The second pancreatic cancer was concerning because it is the deadliest kind, with an average five-year survival rate of 9%, lowest of all cancers. But Ginsburg has lived 11 years since her first bout.

The justice’s first major health scare was colon cancer in 1999. Chemotherapy and radiation left her depleted, so her late husband Martin convinced her to get a personal trainer. She has worked out twice a week ever since.

Her first bout with pancreatic cancer in 2009 was caught early following a routine blood test, and she made a full recovery. She received a stent in a heart procedure in 2014. In November 2018, she fell in her Supreme Court chambers and fractured three ribs, forcing her to miss new Associate Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s investiture ceremony. The fall proved fortuitous, because it enabled doctors to find and remove two malignant nodules from her left lung.

By then, her supporters were increasingly rattled. Twitter was flooded with good wishes as well as medical offers. 

“Ruth Bader Ginsberg (sic) can have my ribs,” actress and #MeToo activist Alyssa Milano tweeted at he time. “And my kidneys and a lung. And anything else she needs.”

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