Entertainment Sports 'Cheer' Coach Monica Aldama Talks About 'Shocking' and 'Devastating' Jerry Harris Allegations During an appearance on The Ellen DeGeneres Show on Wednesday, Monica Aldama opened up about being “heartbroken” after learning about Jerry Harris’ alleged sex crimes By Stephanie Wenger Stephanie Wenger Instagram Twitter Stephanie Wenger is a TV Writer/Reporter at PEOPLE. She joined the brand in 2021 as digital news writer, spanning across the site's verticals. She previously contributed to E! Online, HollywoodLife, Discover Los Angeles, Oscar.com and Hollywood.com. She appeared on air at AfterBuzz TV. She began her journalism career as an intern at Good Morning America and Access Hollywood. She graduated from Boston University with a Bachelor's in communications and received a Master's in journalism from the University of Southern California. People Editorial Guidelines Published on January 19, 2022 06:20 PM Share Tweet Pin Email Monica Aldama and Jerry Harris. Photo: Jim Spellman/Getty (2) Cheer star Monica Aldama is recalling being "heartbroken" after finding out that Jerry Harris, a former Navarro College cheerleader, was charged with sex crimes last year. The 49-year-old cheerleading coach opened up about learning of the allegations against Harris and how she tried to remain mentally strong amid the news, during an interview on The Ellen DeGeneres Show on Wednesday. "It was shocking. It was devastating for everyone," Aldama told host DeGeneres. "As a parent, I was heartbroken for those affected and, you know, it was definitely one of the major challenges that we faced, just keeping ourselves in a good state of mind, mentally to get through that." Cheer's Monica Aldama on Learning About Jerry Harris' Alleged Sex Crimes: 'Took the Breath Out of Me' Harris, 22, become a breakout star of Cheer during the show's first season, leaving fans and his former teammates shocked when two underage twin brothers filed a lawsuit against him in September 2020 for allegedly sexually abusing them and demanding nude photographs from them. Additionally, he 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. Later in 2020, Harris was charged 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. 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. Monica Aldama with Ellen DeGeneres. Michael Rozman/Warner Bros. Stars of Cheer Recount Reactions to Teammate Jerry Harris' Sex Crimes Arrest: 'My Heart Completely Sank' Attorneys for Harris, who remains in custody, have not commented on the charges but a spokesperson previously denied the claims made in the lawsuit. "We categorically dispute the claims made against Jerry Harris, which are alleged to have occurred when he was a teenager," the spokesperson said. "We are confident that when the investigation is completed the true facts will be revealed." Never miss a story — sign up for PEOPLE's free weekly newsletter to get the biggest news of the week delivered to your inbox every Friday. During her Wednesday appearance, Aldama also discussed minimizing outside noise and potential distractions following the success of Cheer. Monica Aldama with Ellen DeGeneres. Michael Rozman/Warner Bros. "All the outside stuff stayed outside and we really put the hours into preparing," she said of her team, who aim to score another NCA championship title while processing Harris' arrest in season two of the Netflix hit. Jerry Harris from Cheer Sued for Allegedly Soliciting Sex and Nude Photos from Boys "You know, when you come from adversity, you are grateful for opportunities that you get. These kids have worked so hard. They have overcome circumstances, so we kept saying all the time that we have an attitude of gratitude," she added. "We were grateful for where we were at." The former Dancing with the Stars contestant hopes that Cheer will expose viewers to a different side of the sport. "Cheerleading has a stereotype from the history of cheerleading and then from all of the movies portray it as some popular mean girl that is just on the sidelines to look cute and I really wanted to introduce the world to my team, I was so proud of them," she explained. "Their athleticism, the grit, determination. So I was really excited to do the show." If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, please contact the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673) or go to rainn.org.