A little more than a month before Glee actor Mark Salling died from suicide, he struck a plea deal in the child pornography case against him in which he agreed to serve up to seven years in prison, register as a sex offender, and pay $50,000 to each victim of his crimes who requested it; and he was scheduled to be sentenced in March. Now, in the wake of Mark Salling’s death, a U.S. District Judge has granted a request to dismiss that case.
With the case going away, Salling’s victims’ ability to collect their promised restitution will likely be going away too, as previously revealed. Two attorneys told People that, with Salling dead, the agreement that each victim was entitled to ask for money and Salling would be required to pay it is null and void. “There’s no recourse through the criminal court to collect that money,” L.A. criminal defense attorney Hart J. Levin told the site.
Without a living defendant, the victims could potentially try to seek damages from Salling’s estate, but that can get tricky, as it would need to be in civil court instead of criminal court and his estate could contest it. There will also likely be others looking for payments from his estate like credit card companies, the attorneys said.
But the case against Mark Salling was dismissed “without prejudice,” which is to say it could technically be refiled in the future.
Salling, who was known for playing Puck on the Fox’s musical dramedy, was first charged with possession of child pornography in 2015, when federal investigators found more than 25,000 images and 600 videos on his computers and drives. In October 2017, he pleaded guilty to charges of possession of child pornography involving a prepubescent minor. He was found dead near his L.A. home on January 30th, and was 35 at the time of his passing.
Our thoughts are with Mark Salling’s family and victims during this difficult time.