NEWS
31/01/2018 5:52 AM AEDT | Updated 01/02/2018 5:57 AM AEDT

Former 'Glee' Star Mark Salling Dies Awaiting Child Porn Sentencing

The actor faced up to seven years in prison.

Glee” star Mark Salling, who faced sentencing in March on child pornography charges, was found dead Tuesday in Los Angeles, his attorney confirmed to HuffPost. He was 35.

“I can confirm that Mark Salling passed away early this morning,” attorney Michael Procter said in a statement. “Mark was a gentle and loving person, a person of great creativity, who was doing his best to atone for some serious mistakes and errors of judgment. He is survived by his mother and father, and his brother. The Salling family appreciates the support they have been receiving and asks for their privacy to be respected.”

A Los Angeles Police Department spokesperson told HuffPost that authorities responded to a reported death in the 11900 block of Big Tujunga Canyon Road at 8:50 a.m. Tuesday, but wouldn’t identify the person. TMZ, citing unnamed law enforcement officials, was first to report Salling’s death as a suicide. 

Salling, who played Noah “Puck” Puckerman on “Glee,” faced up to seven years in prison after pleading guilty in October to possessing child pornography involving prepubescent minors. A plea deal required him to register as a sex offender, enter a treatment program and pay $50,000 to each victim who requested compensation. He was also forbidden from contacting anyone under 18 without a parent or guardian present, and was barred from going within 100 feet of public parks and schoolyards. 

Salling’s sentencing hearing was set for March 7.  

In December 2015, the actor was arrested on suspicion of possessing images of underage girls, along with two videos, on his personal computer. Authorities found tens of thousands of images depicting children as young as 2, according to court documents. 

Salling also faced legal conflicts over sexual assault accusations. A former girlfriend, Roxanne Gorzela, sued the actor in 2013 for allegedly forcing her into unprotected sex, according to documents obtained first by the New York Daily News and confirmed by People. She also alleged that he pushed her to the ground in an argument over the incident. Salling settled with Gorzela for around $2.7 million in 2015. 

Another woman said the actor forced her into sex in 2012 after she revoked her consent. She contacted police in 2016, but the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office declined to file charges, citing insufficient evidence.

Born in Denver on Aug. 17, 1982, Salling found a unique outlet for his lifelong interest in music on “Glee,” a musical comedy series following the members of a high-school glee club that ran for six seasons, concluding in 2015. 

“I’ve been doing the whole music thing my whole life ― piano lessons, writing songs, singing and performing,” Salling told talk-show host Wendy Williams in 2009, explaining how he landed the role of Puck, best friend of quarterback Finn Hudson.

“It’s pretty natural,” Salling added. 

Finn was played by Corey Monteith, who died in 2013 from a mix of alcohol and heroin. 

“Today we lost another Glee cast member,” “Glee” vocal arranger Tim Davis wrote on Twitter, where a debate had brewed over the response to Salling’s death. 

“Let me be clear. Having compassion for Mark Salling in no way minimizes his crimes, nor does it minimize the pain and devastation of the victims of those crimes. I’m just saying stop adding to his family’s pain. This was their son. If you’re without sin, feel free to cast stones,” Davis continued.

His comment was reshared by Jane Lynch, who played antagonistic cheerleading coach Sue Sylvester. Approached  by TMZ, Lynch called the death “tragic.”

“Oh Mark,” wrote Iqbal Theba, who played the show’s Principal Figgins.

If you or someone you know needs help, call 1-800-273-8255 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. You can also text HELLO to 741-741 for free, 24-hour support from the Crisis Text Line. Outside of the U.S., please visit the International Association for Suicide Prevention for a database of resources.

This article has been updated with additional details about Salling’s legal issues.

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