By Nick Romano
December 22, 2020 at 01:16 PM EST
Heather Morris and Mark Salling
Credit: Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic; Imeh Akpanudosen/Getty Images

Heather Morris issued an apology to her followers on Monday after posting tweets in defense of her late Glee costar Mark Salling, who died by suicide in 2018, weeks before he was to be sentenced for possession of child pornography.

In a series of now-deleted tweets (that were reported on by PEOPLE), Morris wrote that she found a Glee cast photo posted by someone who placed a vomit emoji over Salling's face "offensive."

In light of the ensuing conversations among her and her followers on Twitter, the actress wrote this week, "To all those who felt triggered by my message, I want to sincerely apologize for the harm I caused. Whether you, a friend, a family member has [sic] been a victim of pedophilia, I realize my words may have been insensitive to your experience and for that I can't express enough how sorry I am."

Morris initially responded to the backlash last week, in part, by tweeting, "I don't feel the need to ever justify something because somethings are better left unsaid. Y'all who have lots of things to say, I get it, I UNDERSTAND you … some things are unforgivable. But this holiday season, amongst ALL holiday seasons is INCREDIBLE [sic] hard for so many of us."

She added at the time, "We did not loose [sic] just 2 cast members, we lost 3." Glee stars Cory Monteith and Naya Rivera also died in recent years. "And it is SO incredible [sic] tough to have to act like that 3rd one is invisible, because even though his actions are unjustifiable, he was a part of our family at one point and he was mentally SICK. Yes pedophelia [sic] is a sickness but … Although I don't want to have to say all that, its truthful. So THANK YOU for treated me with such disrespect and unkindness during a time that I can't get through a day without balling [sic] my eyes out at the loss of my entire Glee family … thank you."

Salling pled guilty to possession of child pornography involving a prepubescent minor two years after his 2015 arrest. Following a search of the actor's home by the LAPD's Internet Crimes Against Children unit, federal investigators said they found more than 25,000 images and 600 videos depicting child pornography.

Salling, who struck a plea deal in 2017, was expected to be jailed for four to seven years in prison. The case was ultimately dismissed after Salling took his own life in January 2018.

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