Mark Salling Arrested for Child Porn: Inside the Glee Star's Big Break and Troubled Past

12/29/2015 AT 04:50 PM EST

When Glee actor Mark Salling was arrested in connection with possessing child pornography Tuesday, it sent shock waves through the still devoted fan base of Fox's cult favorite musical-comedy.

Salling, 33, played Noah "Puck" Puckerman from 2009-15 on Glee. A mohawked jock known for tossing students into a dumpster, Puck was best friends with Cory Monteith's character Finn Hudson – though he cheated and had a baby with Finn's girlfriend – and evolved over six seasons, eventually enlisting in the Air Force.

Mark Salling Arrested for Child Porn: Inside the Glee Star's Big Break and Troubled Past| Crime & Courts, Glee, TV News, Mark Salling

From left: Dijon Talton, Kristin Chenoweth, Harry Shum Jr. and Mark Salling on Glee

Carin Baer / FOX

His Big Break

Born in Dallas, Salling began playing the piano at age 5 and performed in rock bands in high school, he said in a 2010 Teen Vogue interview. He moved to California to study guitar at music college for a year before trying to make it as a singer-songwriter.

"I decided I eventually wanted to pursue my own work, and so that kind of led to seeking other opportunities, and that’s when Glee came along," he told the magazine, calling the gig "pretty much my dream job."

Glee marked Salling's first major TV role: Before then, his only acting credits were an appearance in a 1999 episode of Walker, Texas Ranger and a part in the 1996 straight-to-video Children of the Corn: The Gathering.

In a 2010 promotion for the show's open casting call by Fox All Access, Saling talked about his "mind-blowing" and "stressful" audition experience.

"I mean, [there are] 30 people in a room watching you read five scenes and singing, and you do that over and over early in the morning, and there’s like four other dudes around you that are like breathtaking, and you’re like, 'What am I doing here, I’m a freaking troll, ' " he joked.

Losing Cory

Salling and Monteith were close on and off screen, and the leading man's sudden death in 2013 from a drug overdose was a devastating blow.

"Cory Monteith was a great leader as a character and person in real life," Salling told PEOPLE in 2014. "It's a big, obvious hole. I still think about him all the time."

#MCM goes out to Cory Monteith. Miss you more than ever brother. Happy birthday

A photo posted by Mark Salling (@marksalling) on



His ex-girlfriend Denyse Tonz also discussed the tragedy's impact on him.

"It wasn't something he talked about much, but it definitely took a toll on him," the former Nickelodeon actress told PEOPLE in a separate interview. "It left everybody shocked, and especially [Salling]."

Mark Salling Arrested for Child Porn: Inside the Glee Star's Big Break and Troubled Past| Crime & Courts, Glee, TV News, Mark Salling

Mike Miller (left) and Mark Salling

Courtesy Mark Salling

Life After Glee

Salling released a solo rock album in 2010 and has been focusing on his music career since the curtains closed on Glee, working on a project with his band Camp Coyote. Plus, he's filming a 2016 movie called Adi Shankar's Gods and Secrets with Kellan Lutz and Denise Richards.

Salling – who was once linked to costar Naya Rivera – dated Tonz (then 20 years old) in summer 2014 before their busy schedules led to a breakup.

"But you never know what could happen down the road," she told PEOPLE that December, adding of his band: "That's one thing that Mark will never let people down on – he's incredible live. Honestly, as an artist, I have so much respect for him because he is the most talented musician."

Sexual Battery Allegation

But Salling also has a dark past. In January 2013, ex-girlfriend Roxanne Gorzela sued him for sexual battery, assault, intentional infliction of emotional distress and negligence, accusing him of forcing her to have unprotected sex with him in March 2011.

According to legal papers obtained by PEOPLE, Gorzela went to confront him at his home later but claimed to find him in bed with another woman. She alleges that they got into an argument and he pushed her to the ground, causing her to hit her head. This March, Gorzela dropped her sexual battery claim, and Salling agreed to pay her about $2.7 million.
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