Give Mark Salling's Victims the Restitution that they Deserve
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This is a petition for all of the victims of Mark Salling's child pornography collection to be paid the $50,000 restitution that they would have received, had Salling not committed suicide.
On December 29, 2015, actor Mark Salling was arrested on suspicion of owning child pornography, and upon a search, it was found that in the 9 month span between April and December, Salling had downloaded around 50,000 images and 600 videos of children being sexually abused, some as young as two or three. On May 27, 2016, he was charged with receiving and possessing child pornography, and on September 30, 2017, almost two years after he was first arrested, he pleaded guilty, and that guilty plea was formalized on December 18, 2017. Salling would have then been sentenced in March, 2018.
His sentencing was speculated to be 4-7 years of prison time, followed by 20 years under court supervision. He would also have to undergo therapy and treatment, register as a sex offender, and abide by regulations to protect any more children from being abused. As well as this, part of his plea deal was to give each victim of his crime a restitution of $50,000. However, this would not go into effect until he had been officially sentenced.
Salling, unfortunately, committed suicide on January 30, 2018, a little over a month before he was due to be sentenced. Despite whatever reasons why he chose to end his life this way, in doing it, he avoided his sentencing and conviction. This, in itself, is incredibly frustrating, as there will be no justice for the thousands of children whose abuse he endorsed. However, one of the biggest injustices is that it has come to light that these victims may not be paid the restitution that they were told they would be paid as part of the plea deal.
When Salling died, he escaped his fate, but this does not change the fates of these children whose innocence was taken from them too soon, who will be forced to live with the reality of their abuse for the rest of their lives. The child pornography industry (taking place mostly on the dark web, which is only accessible using software to hide one's IP address, which is what Salling did) is one of the fastest-growing industries in the world, with an estimated annual revenue of $3 billion. Every week, 480,769 child pornography images are reviewed by the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children. Many victims of child pornography have experienced physical and emotional abuse as well as sexual, and often, it's those closest to the child who forces them into it, such as a family member or friend. These children are at significantly greater risk for later post-traumatic stress, other anxiety symptoms, depression, substance abuse, behavioral issues and suicide attempts. While Salling escaped his fate, the children in the images that he possessed will not.
Although the sad reality of child pornography is that, due to the vulnerability of these children, many of them will never receive justice, the records show that some of Salling's victims have been identified. Therefore, there is no reason for them not to be paid the restitution that they are owed.
Therefore, we are urging Salling's attorney, Michael J. Proctor, and the Los Angeles Civil Court, to liquidate Salling's estate and pay the restitution to his victims that he would've been made to pay, had he been alive to be sentenced. Salling's death does not erase his crimes, nor does it cancel out the real pain and suffering that these children endured, and to ignore this due to protocol and procedure is deplorable and shameful. There is a chance to make some light out of an otherwise dark and devastating situation; let's take it.
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