Wednesday, 30 December 2015

The fall of Mark Salling, ‘Glee’ star and Christian songster, arrested on child porn charges

It should be said right away: Mark Salling, the former “Glee” cast member arrested on child pornography charges in Los Angeles on Tuesday, has not been convicted of a crime. That, however, did not prevent legions on social media from dissecting the 33-year-old’s career as though it were little more than a fresh corpse just arrived at the morgue.

[‘Glee’ star Mark Salling arrested in child pornography case]

“So sick of celebrities abusing their position as people who can influence the younger generation,” one Twitter user wrote. “The news about Mark Salling is sickening.” Another: “Disappointed to hear about the allegations against Mark Salling. I hope those who were victimized find closure.”

Crime Watch Daily, which broke the story of his arrest, said police used a battering ram to break down Salling’s door and found hundreds of images. Salling has yet to comment on the arrest.

Though Salling. who played Noah “Puck” Puckerman on “Glee,” had defenders — “Michael Jackson was an innocent man, the world’s false accusations ruined him,

” one tweet reminded — the list of celebrities who recover from child porn scandals is not long. And it’s worth remembering that Salling, a Christian musician who once rocked in the name of the lord, wasn’t even supposed to be here. Salling’s love affair with music began with the piano, which he took up at age 5. However, growing up evangelical in Dallas, some genres were verboten.

“Madonna was considered the she-devil,” he said in 2010.

Still, Salling was adventurous enough to explore music that embraced devilish themes.

Alice In Chains was probably my favorite grunge band,” he said in 2009. “You know, I liked Nirvana and Pearl Jam and Soundgarden, of course, too, to name a few. But Alice In Chains is probably my biggest favorite of that genre.”

Salling was also bold enough for a trip many a rocker has unsuccessfully taken in an attempt to make it big: from the heartland to Los Angeles. His relocation to the City of Angels, however, did not bring immediate success.

“Well, I was teaching guitar lessons for five years, and … I was getting nowhere trying to get into the music scene in Los Angeles,” he said. “It’s pretty difficult to do unless you have a following already.”

Indeed, Salling’s pre-“Glee” efforts proved less than radio-friendly. Recorded under the very Christian-rock name Jericho, one of Salling’s tracks, “Yoked Equally,” appears to slight those unwilling to embrace Christ. Chorus lyric: “The heavenly father shines down on me until the day I am yoked equally.” (Those seeking more information on the Christian concept of being “equally yoked” with a partner in faith can begin their exploration here). Suffice it to say, Salling contemplates a cross on a hilltop in the video.

There had to be something more accessible to the masses.

“On the recommendation of a few of my clients actually, they told me to check out this casting Web site that was always looking for people who could sing or play guitar,” he said. “That led to me seeking representation, and I reached out to about 150 managers and agents, One manager actually gave me a chance and called me; then he referred me to an agent, who submitted me for ‘Glee’ in the office the day I met her. So it was very, very sudden and quick.”

Just like that, the mohawked Salling — formerly best known, perhaps, for a part in one episode of “Walker, Texas Ranger” in 1999 — became a regular on an immensely popular show. Playing Puck, the show’s bad boy, did not come naturally.

“There are certain times I channel some of the douchebags I went to high school with,” Salling said in 2010. “I want to soften him up a little bit and make him a bit more accessible. He’s one of a kind.”

Though Salling rocketed to fame — performing Motown at the White House, for example — he did not leave his faith behind. One track released under his own name in 2010, “Higher Power,” tread familiar sacred ground, urging listeners: “You should make your peace with God.”

All did not go well, however. “Glee” soon hit ratings trouble — not to mention the upheaval caused by the 2013 death of cast member Cory Monteith. That year, Salling appeared in fewer episodes as the show wound down. He was also hit with a sexual battery lawsuit from an ex-girlfriend, who alleged he had unprotected sex with her despite her request he use a condom, and was eventually ordered to pay $2.7 million, according to the terms of a settlement agreement he entered into in order to resolve the case.

“You hear about fraudulent lawsuits all the time,” Salling said at the time. “Until it happens to you, you really don’t grasp what it does, not to just you, but to your family …You just have to stay positive, and I personally have a relationship with Jesus Christ and I count on that myself.”

In the days ahead, Salling — now out on $20,000 bail with a Jan. 22 court date — may need to rely on that relationship more than ever.

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