A timeline of the criminal events leading up to Mark Salling’s death
Earlier today, TMZ broke the news that Glee actor Mark Salling died from an apparent suicide. The actor, who played Noah “Puck” Puckerman on the former hit Fox series, was awaiting sentencing for possession of child pornography at the time of his death.
According to TMZ, police were called to look for Salling on a “welfare check” after a family member reported him missing. Salling’s lawyer, Michael Proctor, released a statement to People confirming the actor’s death, “I can confirm that Mark Salling passed away early this morning. 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.”
Salling played Puck, mohawk sporting, oft-bullying best friend of Finn Hudson (Cory Monteith), for all six seasons of Glee, which ran from 2009 to 2015. But just months after the series went off the air, Salling’s mounting legal troubles came to light. Here’s what we know about the years leading up to the actor’s death:
Sexual abuse lawsuit
In 2013, Salling was sued by former girlfriend Roxanne Gorzela for sexual battery, assault and battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and negligence. In her lawsuit, Gorzela claimed the actor coerced her into having unprotected sex with him, despite her insistence on him using a condom. She added that after unsuccessfully reaching out to Salling on numerous occasions regarding whether he’d been tested for STDs, she went to personally confront him, which is when he allegedly grabbed her and pushed her to the ground, causing injury. While Salling denied the claims, in 2015 he settled the lawsuit and was ordered to pay Gorzela $2.7 million.
Arrest and indictment on child pornography charges
Just months after Glee concluded, Salling was arrested on December 29th, 2015 under suspicion of possessing child pornography. Per TMZ, the Los Angeles Police Department’s Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force searched his home and uncovered thousands of images depicting child pornography after a former girlfriend turned him in to the police. On May 27th, 2016, Salling was formally charged by a federal grand jury with receiving and possessing child pornography, and on June 3rd, the former actor was arraigned and pleaded not guilty to the charges. The trial was then delayed as Salling sought out new counsel.
Career indefinitely on hold
Just days after Salling was indicted by the grand jury, the actor was fired his only post-Glee role on miniseries Gods and Secrets. According to People, executive producer Adi Shankar took to Facebook to confirm Salling’s firing, adding that a portion of the series’ profits would be donated to a charity supporting abused children. He wrote, “He has been cut from the miniseries. I will personally be paying for the reshoots, and I hope that Mark finds inner peace.”
In April 2016, Salling was accused of raping an unnamed woman in a 2012 incident. According to People, the woman alleged that after beginning to engage in sexual intercourse with Salling, she changed her mind and told him no, which resulted in him forcing himself on her. While the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office reportedly found the victim’s allegations credible, they were unable to charge Salling with a crime due to lack of evidence.
In October 2017, Salling struck a plea deal with prosecutors, agreeing to plea guilty to possession of child pornography. According to plea documents obtained by Deadline, at the time of the plea, more than 50,000 images and videos containing child pornography and child exploitation were uncovered on his laptop, with another 4000 images in 160 videos found on a thumb drive. The plea also reveals that many of the images and video depict prepubescent children, with victims as young as three and four.
As part of the plea, Salling would serve between four and seven years in prison — he was previously reportedly looking at at least twenty years. Salling would be required to register as a sex offender after being released from prison, pay a $50,000 restitution to each of his victims, undergo psychological counseling, have no contact with anyone under the age of 18, and be required stay at least 100 yards away from schools, parks, public swimming pools, playgrounds, and a host of locales frequented by minors.
Salling formally pleaded guilty on December 18th and was awaiting sentencing on March 7th at the time of his death.