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Actor Mark Salling was charged Friday with receiving and possessing child pornography, following an investigation by the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Investigators seized a laptop, hard drive and USB flash drive from Salling’s home following his arrest on Dec. 29. Investigators claim they contained thousands of pictures and videos depicting child pornography.
The indictment claims Salling had at least one photo and video of “a prepubescent minor and a minor who had not attained 12 years of age.” The title of one of the videos suggests the child was 5 years old.
THR contacted U.S. Attorney Eileen M. Decker’s office for a comment, but did not receive one until it issued a press release Friday.
“Those who download and possess child pornography create a market that causes more children to be harmed,” said Decker in the Friday statement. “Young victims are harmed every time an image is generated, every time it is distributed and every time it is viewed.”
The statement stresses that the indictment is an allegation that Salling committed the crime, but “every defendant is presumed to be innocent until and unless proven guilty in court.”
If convicted, Salling faces a mandatory minimum of five years in federal prison for the charge of receiving child pornography. The charge carries a statutory maximum of 20 years.
It’s also clear from the statement that authorities want high-profile individuals to know they’re not above the law.
“It doesn’t matter who you are or what you do, if you hurt a child you will be held accountable,” Lt. Grossman said in the release. “These images are more than photographs, they are child abuse.”
Salling is expected to surrender to federal authorities and be arraigned on June 3.
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