Mark Salling—best known for his long running role as ‘Puck’ in the hit series, Glee (2009-2015)—has been found dead in a suspected suicide at the age of 35. The death of the actor and singer comes in the wake of a scandal he was embroiled in; one that led to him plead guilty to the possession of child abuse images.
His attorney, Michael Proctor, confirmed the news today in a statement: “I can confirm that Mark Salling passed away early this morning,” he read. “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,” Proctor added.
Salling was born in Dallas, Texas, where he was reportedly home-schooled. After graduating from high school, the Glee actor moved to California and attended the Los Angeles Music Academy College of Music in Pasadena. Salling landed his first acting role in 1996; his career steadily progressed from there.
The cause and manner of Salling’s death are still not clear. However, some reports suggest that officials suspected suicide after finding the Glee actor’s body near a park a few miles from his home in Los Angeles. Salling’s arrest in December 2015 came as a result of an apparent tipoff from an ex-girlfriend—although her identity has not yet been disclosed. After searching Salling’s house, police investigators found more than 25,000 images and 600 videos of child pornography on his computer and on encrypted hard drives. The content apparently depicted children as young as three being abused, court documents state. The same court documents also reveal that a manual was found on the actor’s laptop that instructs men “how to abuse girls who are between three and six years old”.
In the same month as his arrest, the Glee actor admitted to the charges laid against him, saying in a statement that he was: “[…] pleading guilty because I am guilty of the charges.” After pleading guilty to the possession of child pornography, Salling’s legal team reached a plea agreement with prosecutors, requiring him to serve between four and seven years in prison. This meant he would have avoided the maximum sentence of 20 years. As part of his agreement, Salling was required to pay $50,000 to any victims that came forward. The official sentencing was to be held this March, meaning that his death came weeks before the restitution of the agreement came into effect.
Fellow colleagues of the Glee actor have expressed their regret and deepest sympathies for Salling’s family. Salling’s attorney ended his statement this morning by saying: “The Salling family appreciates the support they have been receiving and asks for their privacy to be respected.”