TOWANDA, Pa. (WETM) – Attorney General Josh Shapiro today announced Bradford County District Attorney Chad Salsman has pleaded guilty to charges of intimidation, promoting prostitution, and obstruction of justice after Salsman was accused of sexually assaulting five women he was representing.
As a condition of this plea, Salsman also resigned as the District Attorney of Bradford County.
According to the criminal complaint, Salsman represented numerous women in criminal cases and child custody matters, some of whom “struggled with addictions, had a history of being sexually abused, or suffered from other vulnerabilities which Salsman exploited.”
The criminal complaint alleges that many of the assaults happened in Salsman’s office where he had raped the women on his office desk and “then directed them to his private bathroom to ‘clean up’ using paper towels or cleaning wipes.”
Salsman was also accused of attempting to interfere with the investigation.
Salsman was placed on temporary suspension in March, according to the Disciplinary Board for the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania.
“As Attorney General, I have a responsibility to stand up for the most vulnerable in our Commonwealth. Chad Salsman used his position as a private attorney, and then as the District Attorney, to intimidate and silence his victims and interfere with our investigation. Today is a powerful reminder that no one is above the law,” said Attorney General Shapiro. “To date, we’ve arrested 90 public officials for charges related to public corruption, including embezzlement, sexual assault, and other abuses of power. My Office will continue to seek justice for victims as we uncover public corruption — wherever it lies.”
The plea was entered before the Honorable Judge Joseph M. Augello, specially presiding in Bradford County. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant Chief Deputy Attorney General Daniel J. Dye.
The following outlines each victim’s testimony as stated in the criminal complaint. The details are disturbing and may not be suitable for all readers.
Victim 1: “L.J.”
In 2017, Salsman represented a woman on charges of harassment and possession of drug paraphernalia. Salsman did not bill “L.J” but ordered her to provide nude photographs and videos of her and her girlfriend.
According to the complaint, Salsman groped the victim in his office multiple times. During one incident, he allegedly ordered her to disrobe and raped her.
Both the victim and her girlfriend testified to the grand jury.
Victim 2: “H.H.”
In December 2017 Salsman was court-appointed to represent “H.H” in a child custody case. While representing her Salsman allegedly made “suggestive comments and would touch her under the table during court proceedings.”
H.H. repeatedly declined requests for videos and to have sex with Salsman, but after Salsman said he was not being “adequately compensated for his representation” H.H. sent nude pictures to him.
Salsman also sent H.H. a video of a naked woman in a bathtub without the woman’s consent. The woman in the video says Salsman had been comforting her after a death in the family and that he began asking for pictures and videos.
H.H. testified “that Salsman told her that he masturbated dozens of times a day” and that he sent her pictures of her home without her knowledge.
In April 2019 H.H. was changing her representation and went to Salsman’s office to acquire her file. During that meeting Salsman allegedly “forcibly grabbed her breasts while in his private office.”
H.H. also met with Salsman after he was elected District Attorney and wore a wire device during conversations where he allegedly told her not to cooperate with the grand jury investigation.
Victim 3: “A.M.”
Salsman began representing “A.M.” when she was 19 years old in a child custody case. She contacted him in May 2018 regarding a DUI arrest, during which she said she didn’t have money to pay for his representation.
A.M. alleges that after that conversation Salsman began “coming onto” her and that Salsman said “his wife wasn’t giving him what he needed at home.”
A.M. then told the grand jury that Salsman raped her in his private office on his desk and directed her to clean up using paper towels in his bathroom. He also allegedly touched her breasts and buttocks without her consent, made her perform oral sex, and raped her multiple times.
A.M. testified that he pushed her to get information from other women during the investigation and that he raped her once after he became district attorney.
Victim 4: “L.W.”
“L.W.” testified to the grand jury that Salsman represented her boyfriend, as well as another man who had previously sexually assaulted her. Salsman also hired L.W. and her boyfriend to do repair or remodeling work at his private office and loaned her money.
In October 2018 L.W. visited Salsman’s private office to drop off her last repayment of the loan. During the visit Salsman took the money and “directed L.W. to undress,” saying that he “wanted to see what they (her breasts) looked like because he said they were big through my shirt.”
L.W. complied and was raped by Salsman in his office, after which he told her to clean up with the paper towels in his bathroom. Salsman allegedly told L.W. “not to breathe a word to anyone, or he would ruin her life.”
Victim 5: “N.A.”
“N.A.” was represented by Salsman in a child custody case during which he required little in the way of fees.
In December 2018 Salsman “began touching N.A.’s breasts in his office and touching her inappropriately during court proceedings.”
Salsman then began asking for nude pictures of N.A. and informed her that “she could compensate him for his legal work by having sex with him. As he put it, ‘I could slam your p***y and you wouldn’t have to pay.’”
The criminal complaint says that “N.A. began a consensual sex-for-services relationship with Salsman.” When their “relationship soured, however, Salsman became more aggressive and threatening.”
Salsman told her that he told her no one could know what had happened between them.
Members of Salsman’s staff testified to the grand jury and confirmed that he had “one-on-one” meetings with female clients and that Salsman “went to great lengths to keep his interactions with his clients a secret from the staff.”
Salsman would also ask his secretaries to play music or turn on an air conditioner unit or noise making machine to “mask any sounds or noise occurring in his office.”
Staff also testified that “female clients were seen leaving Salsman’s office in tears or in distress.”
One former staffer told the grand jury that her and Salsman had a consensual ongoing sexual relationship.
Another staffer testified that, in his capacity as District Attorney, Salsman “directed her to report back to him anything that occurred within the grand jury” despite being ordered by the judge not to disclose her testimony.