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Mark Salling's Glee co-stars pay tribute to actor who died ahead of child porn sentencing

Mark Salling’s Glee co-stars have paid tribute to the actor who was found dead near his Los Angeles home weeks before he was due to be sentenced for possession of child pornography.

Best known for playing Noah “Puck” Puckerman on the popular TV series, the 35-year-old’s death is being investigated as a suicide, a law enforcement official told The Associated Press. 

His body was found near a riverbed in Tujunga, a neighbourhood to the north of the city.    

Ahead of his guilty plea for possession of child pornography, prosecutors said a search of Salling’s laptop found more than 25,000 images. Others were discovered on a hard drive and USB stick. 

His girlfriend reported him to police after he showed her some of them. He was facing between four to seven years behind bars at his sentencing on 7 March.

While acknowledging his crime, some of his Glee co-stars and colleagues paid tribute to Salling on social media and expressed their shock at the news. 

Tim Davis, the show’s former vocal coordinator, called him a “broken man”. 

He said: “Today we lost another Glee cast member. Yes, he committed crimes against children. Yes, it’s horrific. But #MarkSalling was a broken man, no doubt an abuse victim himself”.

Davis’ post was retweeted by other members of the Glee cast.

Matthew Morrison, who played Will Schuester in the Emmy Award winning show with Salling, shared a photo on Instagram of Salling with Cory Monteith, who played Finn Hudson on the show.  

In 2013 Monteith died of an “accidental overdose” of heroin and alcohol in a Vancouver hotel room.

Iqbal Theba, who played Principal Figgins on the show,  tweeted: “Oh Mark.”

She followed it up with a fuller statement. 

“His death is painful for me,” she wrote. “Some of u might know him for only his flaws but I also knew him as someone who was great to work with & was kind to my kids. I truly wish he’d fought his demons &atoned himself & came out a winner. May we all find solace in some of his gentler memories.”

Paris Barclay, a director who worked on the show, shared an image of himself alongside Salling and 

“It’s a painful loss, again”, Barclay wrote alongside the picture. “Two young actors, lost too soon. RIP #marksalling.”

Prior to his sentencing, Salling was ordered to stay at least 100 feet away from schools, parks, public swimming pools, youth centres, playgrounds, and arcades. He had also been ordered to pay $50,000 in restitution to each victim of his, was not allowed to have any verbal or electronic contact with minors, and checked into a treatment plan.

“Mark is focused on accepting responsibility and to atone for his conduct,” his lawyer Michael Proctor said after his client’s guilty plea. 

He also confirmed Salling had passed away, but did not reveal the cause of death. 

“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 judgement,” he said in a statement. 

The overnight success of Glee turned Salling, who was regular on the first four seasons of the high school set musical, and his co-stars into instant stars.

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