Mark Salling’s estate might not have to pay his victims $50,000 each after he was found dead of an apparent suicide, a source close to his child pornography case tells Us Weekly.
“Restitution would be a part of his sentence. The amount of the restitution is determined by the sentencing judge … He will not be sentenced. Therefore there will be no restitution order,” the source explains. “Therefore I doubt that there is anything to take to civil court. Any restitution order would be allocated among multiple known victims.”
The insider continues, “The amount allocated to each would be different based upon, for example, therapy expenses they have incurred. No such order has been entered. I am unclear as to how anyone feels that they could go into court to enforce an order which has not been entered. I’m not saying that there isn’t some lawyer out there willing to file suit on behalf of someone claiming to be a victim. But I am saying, that there is no order to be enforced, for $50,000 or any other amount on behalf of anyone.”
The coroner confirmed to Us that the former Glee star died on Tuesday, January 30. Salling – who was found by a riverbed in the Sunland-Tujunga neighborhood of Los Angeles — was pronounced dead at the scene, and PIO Assistant Chief of the Coroner Ed Winter told Us that “a cause of death will not be determined until an autopsy is performed.”
Back in December, Salling pleaded guilty to to possession of child pornography involving a prepubescent minor. His sentencing was set for March 7, but the 35-year-old actor struck a plea deal with prosecutors in October that included four to seven years in jail and registering as a sex offender following his release. According to the court documents previously obtained by Us, Salling was also ordered to pay approximately $50,000 in restitution, which is a payment to a victim for the harm that has been caused.
Criminal defense attorney Troy Slaten, who is not directly involved in Salling’s case, explains to Us the victims can potentially sue his estate in civil court for the restitution.
“Just because the criminal case is going to be dismissed does not mean his estate is off the hook financially. Any victims can sue his estate in civil court and receive monetary awards for damages. These awards … can be in the neighborhood of hundred of thousands of dollars or even in the millions,” Slaten explains.
“Because he entered a plea of guilty, the victims don’t have to prove liability in civil court, the only issue is how much in damages,” Slaten says. “You cannot sentence a dead person … If he had already been sentenced and restitution was ordered, then his estate would have been liable for the restitution.”
He adds, “They have to file suit in civil court, if they have not already, which they want to do quickly, because you do not want the estate to distribute assets. That would make it more difficult to collect. Mark Salling’s family has no liability, so they are off the hook.”
If you or someone you know is in emotional distress or suicidal crisis, please call the Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
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