Actor Mark Salling, who was best known for his role in television series Glee, has passed away at the age of 35. His death comes just weeks before a sentencing hearing for charges of child pornography.
The actor’s body was found just before 9 a.m. Tuesday in a riverbed in Sunland, California, not far from where he lived. He was pronounced dead at the scene at 9 a.m.
Officials said investigations are still ongoing, and a full autopsy is still pending. The cause of his death is not yet verified, although there are reports that it was an apparent suicide.
Salling’s lawyer, Michael J. Proctor, confirmed the actor’s death and asked that his family’s privacy is respected.
“I can confirm that Mark Salling passed away early this morning,” said Proctor. “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.”
“The Salling family appreciates the support they have been receiving and asks for their privacy to be respected,” the lawyer added.
The actor was six weeks away from the March 7 hearing, where he was expected to face four to seven years in prison after entering a guilty plea for charges of possessing material involving the sexual exploitation of minors.
According to court documents, some of the images that the actor possessed featured children as young as three years old.
Salling was indicted in May 2016 after a search warrant led authorities to the discovery of over 50,000 child abuse images on his computer and flash drive. In October, Salling pleaded guilty to avoid the maximum sentence of 20 years.
Salling was well-known for playing the role of Noah “Puck” Puckerman on the hit television musical series “Glee.” He was a member of show’s cast for its entire six-season run from 2009 to 2015.