"I was there for him as much as I could," Georgie Leahy said on her podcast on Tuesday

By Ashley Boucher
January 29, 2020 10:46 PM
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A woman who says she dated Mark Salling is speaking out for the first time about the Glee actor’s death, two years after he died by suicide at the age of 35.

Speaking on her Georgie and Friends podcast, Georgie Leahy recounted finding out that Salling had been arrested for possession of child pornography and then years later learning of his death.

Leahy said she tried to support Salling after his arrest because she knew people would avoid him after he was charged with — and later pleaded guilty to — possession of child pornography.

“I was there for him as much as I could,” Leahy said. “I wanted him to know that he has me.”

While their 2015 relationship was not very public, Leahy said that she believed Salling kept her “in the shadows” in order to “protect her.”

“There’s a few pictures of us online, but there’s really not much evidence [of our relationship],” she said, adding that she thought he was trying to “get well through me.”

Georgie Leahy, Mark Salling
Brian Ach/Getty Images; Angela Weiss/Getty Images

“It’s an addiction, it’s a sickness,” Leahy, who didn’t attend Salling’s funeral, said of his child pornography possession. “None of us can comprehend it, understand it.”

Salling died in January 2018 of asphyxia by hanging, PEOPLE previously reported, when he was found in the area of the Los Angeles River in Sunland, California.

The actor’s death came just weeks before he was set to be sentenced to prison for possession of child pornography.

Mark Salling
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Salling pleaded guilty to possession of child pornography involving a prepubescent minor in October 2017, two years after he was arrested in December 2015.

LAPD’s Internet Crimes Against Children unit obtained a search warrant for his home in Sunland that year, and federal investigators said they found more than 25,000 images and 600 videos depicting child pornography on computers and thumb drives that belonged to the Glee star.

The content depicted children as young as 3 years old being abused, according to court documents, PEOPLE previously reported.

Salling struck a plea deal in December 2017 and was expected to be sentenced to four to seven years in prison.

The case was dismissed after his death.

If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), text “STRENGTH” to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 or go to suicidepreventionlifeline.org.

If you or someone you know has been a victim of sexual abuse, text “STRENGTH” to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 to be connected to a certified crisis counselor.