Hallmark Channel’s “When Calls the Heart” returned Sunday without Lori Loughlin, the show’s former star who is facing federal charges connected to the highly-publicized college admissions scam.
The show addressed her character’s departure by opening with a scene of Erin Krakow’s Elizabeth Thatcher character narrating a letter, explaining that Loughlin’s character of Abigail Stanton decided to travel from their Canada hometown to the East Coast with her son Cody to care for her ill mother.
“It’s been a week since Abigail got word that her mother had taken ill back east,” she writes. “True to her nature, Abigail wasted no time in rushing off to take care of her. Abigail is much more than a friend. She’s family and I will miss her and Cody deeply. We all will. But we must get by as best we can.”
“In her absence, we must soldier on and we will. We are a community,” she continues. “We are strong. We are Hope Valley.”
A representative for “When Calls the Heart” production company Crown Media, previously confirmed to USA TODAY that Season 6 of the show would resume sans Loughlin with back-to-back episodes on Sunday and Monday.
The episode’s letter has similarities to a note that Brian Bird, one of the “When Calls the Heart” producers, shared on the show’s official Instagram last month.
“Life throws all of us painful curveballs, and the only way to survive is to walk right through them with courage, grace, a forgiving spirit, and most of all, hope,” he wrote. “Many of you have wondered what the future holds for our cast and crew, and for the citizens of Hope Valley. Your care and concern means the world to us, and the best way we can thank you is to encourage you the way you encourage us because… Hope always lives here.”
Last month, Loughlin and her fashion designer husband, Mossimo Giannulli filed federal court documents saying they waive their right to appear in court for an arraignment and plead not guilty.
Their decision to fight the charges came after they were indicted on an additional felony count of money laundering, on top of the mail fraud and honest services fraud counts they were charged with in March.
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From Executive Producer, Brian Bird: #Hearties, thanks for sticking with us through this challenging time. As you now know… the show not only must go on, but will go on, starting Sunday night, May 5th and Monday night, May 6th, and then in our regular Sunday night time slot after that through the remainder of Season 6. Life throws all of us painful curveballs, and the only way to survive is to walk right through them with courage, grace, a forgiving spirit, and most of all, hope. Many of you have wondered what the future holds for our cast and crew, and for the citizens of Hope Valley. Your care and concern means the world to us, and the best way we can thank you is to encourage you the way you encourage us because… Hope always lives here. #WhenCallsTheHeart #WCTH #Hearties (?: @janettemsu)
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