Glee star Mark Salling could face up to 40 years in prison for charges related to child pornography. A federal grand jury returned a two-count indictment against the Glee star for receiving child porn and for possession.
The first count charged Salling with using the Internet to receive a still image and a video depicting child pornography featuring young girls. The second count alleges Salling possessed two videos depicting child pornography, also depicting young girls, Mail Online reports.
The actor faces a maximum of 20 years if convicted on the charge of receiving child pornography, and a further 20 years for possessing child pornography.
The 33-year-old was arrested on 29 December 2015, on suspicion of possessing child pornography. The Los Angeles Police Department's Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force unit served a search warrant at his home in Sunland, California.
TMZ reported that an ex-girlfriend tipped off the police, who investigated the matter before the raid to ensure it was not a false accusation following a bitter break-up. Police searched his laptop computer and a flash memory drive, and are alleged to have found hundreds of indecent images of children .
Joseph Macias, head of US Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Homeland Security Investigations in Los Angeles, said in a statement to 9News.com said he hopes that the high profile case will serve to raise awareness of child sexual exploitation.
"The traditional stereotype about the kinds of people who commit child sexual exploitation crimes simply doesn't dovetail with reality. As our investigators can attest, the defendants in child pornography cases come in all ages and from all walks of life," he added. "While people are often surprised when high-profile individuals come under scrutiny in such investigations, we hope cases like this will raise awareness. These images are more than photographs, they are child abuse."
U.S. Attorney Eileen Decker said: "Young victims are harmed every time an image is generated, every time it is distributed and every time it is viewed."
Salling has agreed to surrender to federal authorities on June 3 to face the charges in the indictment, the U.S. Attorney's Office said. He is expected to be arraigned on the indictment on that date.
Last year, the actor was also sued by his ex-girlfriend Roxanne Gorzela for sexual battery, after she alleged that he forced her to have unprotected sex with him. She also claimed he pushed her to the ground and caused injury to her knees. The pair settled the case for a reported $2.7million after he admitted to causing her to fall and injure herself through negligence.
Salling played Noah "Puck" Puckerman in the hit Fox series Glee for six seasons. Earlier movie producer Adi Shankar said he was considering cutting the actor from his film Gods and Secrets, adding that Salling will only be recast if the allegations against him are proven to be untrue.