Mark Salling’s recent suicide leaves the victims of his child pornography charges in the lurch, as their entitlement to his Glee fortune can now be called into question.
The actor was due in court in March for sentencing after pleading guilty to possession of child pornography. Salling had struck a plea deal to get 4-7 years in prison, but an added aspect was that he’d have to pay $50,000 in restitution to any of the victims of his crime who asked for it.
Apparently, Salling had plenty of money to pay, though it’s unclear if it would have been enough. According to documents obtained by TMZ, he set up a corporation in 2009 to collect and process his income from Glee. People often do this to streamline their taxes. Salling’s company, which is managed by his father, is reportedly worth $1.971 million.
When it was confiscated, Salling’s computer reportedly contained more than 50,000 pictures and videos of children as young as three years old being abused. If each of those represented another victim, he could have been on the hook for $2.5 billion, making his debt insurmountable. Add to that the fact that he would have had a hard time finding employment anywhere, let alone as an actor, and his desperation becomes a little more clear.
Salling’s victims will still have an opportunity to sue the actor’s estate for their $50k, though it’s not as sure of a thing as the restitution would have been in his sentencing. The plea deal included the payment, and once a judge had signed in in March it would have been set in stone.
The plea deal was reached in October. Shortly afterward, Salling allegedly attempted suicide by cutting his wrists, though he and his lawyer claimed that story was false. In December, he appeared in court to enter his plea. Eyewitnesses say he looked thin, pale and sickly. He had shaved his head, and he reportedly wore long sleeves covering his wrists. Salling looked so dishevelled that the judge reportedly asked him about his appearance. The actor replied that he was reacting to a new medication to treat his depression.
By all accounts, the judge didn’t feel much sympathy for Salling. He informed the actor that, regardless of the plea deal, he still had the option to hit Salling with the maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.
Salling passed away on Jan. 30. His family released the following statement through their lawyer.
“I can confirm that Mark Salling passed away early this morning," the lawyer said. "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.”