Mark Salling Arrested for Child Porn: Is He a Pedophile?

Actor Mark Salling arrested for images of child sexual exploitation. (Getty Images)

Glee star Mark Salling has been arrested for possession of child porn.

The Los Angeles Police Department’s Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force obtained a warrant after being tipped off from an ex-girlfriend of Salling’s and served it Tuesday morning, TMZ.com reports. Authorities searched the 33-year-old’s home and found more than a thousand images of “child sexual exploitation” on his computer.

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Officials tell TMZ that the images featured children “significantly younger” than 15 and 16.

This isn’t the first time Salling has had a legal issue of a sexual nature. In 2013, he was sued by a woman who claimed he forced her to have sex without a condom. (Salling denied the charge, and the case was settled.)

Possession of child porn is a serious matter and one that could land Salling behind bars. What possesses someone to do this?

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Clinical psychologist Ramani Durvasula tells Yahoo Health that it’s typically caused by a condition called paraphilia, in which a person has abnormal sexual desires that are typically extreme or dangerous. (Pedophilia, a psychiatric disorder in which a person is sexually attracted to children, is a subset of paraphilia.)

And, yes, possession of child porn can be an indicator that a person is a pedophile. According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (the handbook used by health care professionals), the “extensive use of pornography depicting prepubescent children is a useful diagnostic indicator of a Pedophilic Disorder.”

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Researchers still aren’t exactly sure what causes pedophilia, but it seems to be something that a person is born with. “The best information we have now suggests that it is really on the nature side,” clinical psychologist James Cantor, an associate professor at the University of Toronto Faculty of Medicine who researches pedophilia and other atypical sexual interests, tells Yahoo Health.

“The bulk of the data suggests that it’s the result of some prenatal brain difference,” he adds.

The concept is often floated that pedophiles have a history of sexual abuse in their past, but New York City sex therapist Ian Kerner, who has worked with non-offending pedophiles — those who don’t act on their impulse — tells Yahoo Health that there’s no evidence to suggest that. “With all of the non-offending, non-acting pedophiles that I’ve worked with, they don’t have any history of being abused or traumatized in the past,” he says.

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Kerner points out that non-offending pedophiles often “feel cursed with this form of attraction.”

But while some may recognize that they need help for their disorder, it’s often difficult for them to do so. “It’s a closeted, shameful issue for people, and as a result, they often don’t get treatment,” says Durvasula.

But there is also a legal issue. In some states, like California, psychologists have to report pedophiles to authorities. “If someone comes to me to get help and possesses child porn, I would be bound by law to let law enforcement know about these images,” says Durvasula. “That’s definitely going to deter people.”

Despite the barriers, there are treatments available. Cantor says evidence suggests that a pedophile can’t be turned into a non-pedophile, but there are treatments, such as sex-drive-reducing medication and psychotherapy.

Durvasula says the most successful methods are very focused, applied behavioral work in which a pedophile is taught through therapy not to get aroused by children. Kerner has found success in redirecting that arousal to coping mechanisms or other sexual desires.

“It’s always a good idea to seek treatment for this, but there is a legitimate reason for these people to be very careful,” says Cantor.

Salling was reportedly “shocked” by the raid and has already obtained a lawyer.

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