Although Gabi Butler doesn't condone Jerry Harris' alleged actions, she still cares for her teammate.
Butler and Harris both starred on Netflix's 2020 hit Cheer, which followed the underdog Navarro College cheerleading team, of which they were members. In September of that year, Harris was arrested and charged with production of child pornography.
In the fifth episode of the second season, which hit Netflix on Jan. 12, titled "Jerry," Butler described feeling like she was "living in a dream" when she learned that Harris was the subject of an FBI investigation. "I could not wrap my head around any of that," she remembered. "I felt like someone had just died."
Harris pleaded not guilty to seven sex crimes during a virtual court appearance in December 2020. A spokesperson previously said in a statement to E! News, "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."
Butler later added that she couldn't bring herself to be angry with Harris, who was charged with seven sex crimes, saying, "I don't agree with what he was accused of or condone it at all. And it is very unfortunate and it breaks my heart. But it's literally like your family. How are you gonna just hate your family?"
"I feel like people expect me to be like—well, you should hate him and you should never speak to him again," Butler continued. "But the thing is, I can't. Like, I cannot and I won't. I can't turn my back on him. Because he was there for me when I when I needed it."
Though many months have passed since Butler filmed her confessional, she told E! News, "I still stand very firm on what I said."
"Do I condone any of the allegations?" she explained. "Absolutely not. But at the end of the day, I knew that Jerry that you guys all knew from season one... If I was having a bad day, he was there lifting me up; when I was going through something, he was making me smile."
Butler acknowledged that people might be upset with her response but hopes they can "understand" that she didn't see that side of him.
All of this was going on as coach Monica Aldama and the Navarro cheer team were preparing for the 2021 Daytona competition, creating an added sense of stress for Butler, who was participating at the championships for the last time.
"It is extremely hard to just go and pretend like nothing else is going on in the world because truthfully, like, I'm not a robot," Butler shared. "But at the end of the day, like when I am doing what I'm doing I'm very focused. I do know how to have that switch off—basically, going into athlete mode and like turning everything off."
Harris remains in prison as he awaits the start of his trial.
Watch the second season of Cheer, streaming now on Netflix.