TOWANDA, PA – Attorney General Josh Shapiro, in conjunction with the 45th Statewide Investigative Grand Jury, today announced charges against Bradford County District Attorney Chad Salsman for allegations of sexual assault, intimidation, prostitution, and obstruction of justice, among others.
“Chad Salsman would regularly use his position and power as an attorney to coerce his victims into performing sexual acts on him. He would bring them into his private office, under the guise of discussing their case, and used his knowledge of his clients’ vulnerabilities to negate their consent and sexually assault them,” said AG Shapiro. “Salsman picked these victims because they didn’t have any other choice, because he thought they would be easy to silence, and less likely to be believed if they ever came forward. As Attorney General, I have a responsibility to stand up for people who need a voice in our Commonwealth.”
The Grand Jury took testimony from numerous women who were coerced, manipulated, and sexually assaulted by Salsman while he served as their defense attorney. He repeatedly leveraged his power over his victims, who he counseled in criminal and child custody cases, by taking advantage of their vulnerabilities, exploiting them, and then forcing them into submission and silence.
One victim who sought Salsman’s help in a child custody case was pressured into engaging in sexual acts in exchange for his legal services. When testifying before the Grand Jury, she said that there was nothing more important to her than securing the custody of her children. The victim testified that Salsman initially touched her without her consent, but following the unwanted sexual encounter, she gave in to his advances. Once she began having sex with Salsman, he stopped charging her for his legal services related to her custody case.
Another victim recounted to the Grand Jury that Salsman had represented her boyfriend and another individual who had raped her. She confided this history of sexual violence to Salsman who said nothing. On a subsequent visit, Salsman instructed the victim to enter through the back private entrance into his office and instructed her to undress. The victim testified that she complied with the request out of fear and after the unwanted sexual encounter he threatened to ruin her life if she told anyone.
“Five women, independent of one another, experienced the same pattern of advances, coercion, and assault at the hands of Mr. Salsman when he was a defense attorney. They had to rely on Salsman to be their advocate, to represent them at a time they felt powerless, and instead they were preyed upon,” said AG Shapiro.
Salsman’s victims corroborated information known only to other victims. Salsman would routinely intimidate, coerce and commit unwanted sexual acts with his clients on his desk and then direct them to a small bathroom in his office to clean up using paper towels or cleaning wipes. Salsman told each of his victims to tell no one what he had done.
Staff from his private law firm testified that Salsman often met with his female clients one-on-one, and would keep the details of their files secret from his own legal staff. They also told the Grand Jury that Salsman had a long-standing policy of having his secretaries play music, run noise machines, or run the air conditioner to drown out the sounds of his meetings with clients. Staff also noted that they repeatedly saw female clients leave his office in tears. During the Grand Jury’s investigation, Salsman summoned a former staffer to his office, as District Attorney, and demanded she report any information she learned during her appearance before the Grand Jury.
Salsman faces more than a dozen charges, including three separate charges of sexual assault, five separate charges of indecent assault, twelve counts of intimidation of a witness or victim, one count of obstruction of justice, and one count of prostitution.
This case was referred to the Office of Attorney General by former Bradford County DA Daniel Barrett and is being prosecuted by Assistant Chief Deputy Attorney General Daniel J. Dye. All charges discussed are accusations. The defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
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