Glee star’s ex breaks silence on his death
The ex-girlfriend of Mark Salling - who was about to be sentenced on child pornography charges when he died, has spoken out about the dark period.
Actress Georgie Leahy was having a manicure when the news broke: Her ex-boyfriend, 35-year-old "Glee" star Mark Salling, had taken his own life.
"I collapsed in the nail salon," Leahy tells The NY Post, speaking on the second anniversary of Salling's death.
"It was devastating."
It was also complicated. She and Salling had split nearly two years before - when he was accused of possession of child pornography. He pleaded guilty to the crime in October 2017. His January 30, 2018, suicide took place six weeks before he was due to be sentenced.
After two years of silence, the 32-year-old British woman is finally opening up about her torment in this week's episode of her podcast series, Georgie and Friends.
"What happened with Mark evoked so many complex feelings," she says.
"I didn't feel like I had permission to hurt because of everything he was accused of."
The two met in March 2015, at a birthday party in the Hollywood Hills for Twilight hunk Kellan Lutz.
"I overheard this guy talking about how his legs were aching because he did a 'leg day,'" Leahy recalls.
"I asked him, 'Are you a personal trainer?' And he looked at me funny. Then we just started talking and exchanged numbers."
Leahy says she didn't realise just who he was until a few weeks later, when she arrived at his ranch in Sunland, half an hour north of LA, for their first date. There, on his walls, she saw gold discs citing his work on Glee and other projects.
"I was like, 'Oh, my God, I'm on a date with Puck," Leahy says of Salling's mohawked Glee character, Noah "Puck" Puckerman.
The hit TV show had recently aired its final episode after six seasons.
She says they instantly bonded over their love of animals - Salling had a pet squirrel, Gerbie, and rehabilitated injured ravens and crows in an aviary at his house - and found herself swiftly falling in love.
"He was an excellent pianist and sang me his original music and covers such as Justin Bieber's What Do You Mean?" says Leahy.
"Whenever I hear the song now, I'm transported back to being with Mark."
They enjoyed cycling around Sunland, driving in his pick-up truck and sharing intimate dinners at fancy restaurants on Melrose Ave in LA. Salling would give her bouquets of purple roses - purple, she says, was his favourite colour.
Their sex life, she says, was "healthy." She fondly remembers snuggling with him and Gerbie on a hammock that Christmas Eve.
"It was just very chilled and relaxed," she says, tearfully.
Five days later, on December 29, Salling was arrested on a devastating child-pornography charge. It was the second scandal to hit the Glee cast since the July 2013 drug overdose of Salling's co-star and friend Cory Monteith.
Tipped off by one of Salling's ex-girlfriends, LAPD's internet Crimes Against Children Unit obtained a search warrant for the actor's ranch. Investigators said a seized laptop, hard drive and thumb drive contained tens of thousands of images and videos depicting child pornography.
Leahy was alerted by her younger sister, who told her to check TMZ.
"My brain was going crazy," she says. "I tried to call Mark to find out what was going on, but the police had confiscated his phone."
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She drove to his house and, when it seemed no one was home, slid a note with her phone number on it under the door. She wrote that she would support him as a friend if he needed her.
Her mother tried to dissuade her from seeing Salling again, but the former lovers met one last time in February 2016, after he invited her to his home.
"We just hugged and sat together in total silence," Leahy says. "I desperately wanted him to say, 'It's not true,' or 'I've been set up.'"
But those words never came.
After that, Salling shut her out.
"I think he was trying to protect me," she says, stressing that she feels horrible for anyone victimised by child pornography.
Indeed, she says, she can't square their relationship with what she calls "his dark secret" and a sickness.
"I'm very womanly - I don't have a childlike figure - so I feel like I fit into one half of his life," she says. "He was probably in pain for a very long time."
In October 2017, Salling pleaded guilty. After striking a plea deal, he was due to be sentenced in March 2018 for an expected four to seven years in prison.
Six weeks before his court date, he took his own life.
"It had been a long time since I'd heard from him, but I still loved him," says Leahy, who never met his friends or family and didn't attend his funeral. "I've been wanting to contact his mother to tell her what an amazing person her son was."
Now single, she cherishes her memories of their nearly year-long romance. Her screen saver is a smiling image of them together and she often listens to his albums for old time's sake.
"It's my way of keeping his legacy alive," Leahy says. "I miss him every day."
This article originally appeared in the NY Post and was reproduced with permission.