Pennsylvania DA Chad Salsman pleads guilty to raping clients in office, used noise-canceling device to hide sound
Salsman pleaded guilty to reduced charges as part of a plea deal and has resigned, according to the Pennsylvania attorney general's office
District Attorney Chad Salsman was charged on February 3 with sexually assaulting women who were his clients in criminal and child custody cases during his time in office. Salsman previously claimed that the allegations against him were a pack of "vicious lies" and the attack on him was a political smear by Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro. After denying allegations for three months, Salsman resigned from office on Friday, May 7, and pleaded guilty to pressuring his clients to have sex with him and using a noise-canceling machine to drown out the sounds.
Prosecuting attorneys said Salsman manipulated several women into unwanted sexual acts and sexually violated them. Several accusers told a grand jury he groped them, asked for nude photographs, and pressured them into having sex with them, sometimes on his office desk. The victims were then directed into his private bathroom to "clean up" followed by threats from Salsman to remain silent.
Who is Chad Salsman?
Chad Salsman, a Bradford County native, practiced law through government service and private practice since 2001. He worked as a public defender and prosecutor before starting his own law firm The Law Office of Chad M Salsman. He had been a member of the Wyalusing Area School Board since 2006 and also served as President of the School Board. He was a secretary for the Bradford County Republican Committee and a member of Braintrim Baptist Church in Laceyville, PA.
Fast forward to 2019, he was elected as Bradford County's District Attorney. While in office, he was responsible for directing all criminal prosecutions, two assistant DA’s, four supporting staff, and a county detective. His campaign website shows he is married and has three daughters. "My Daughters are the reasons I am seeking this office. I want both my family and yours to feel safe living in Bradford County. I will be a tough but fair District Attorney who always seeks justice for crime victims while protecting our Constitutional rights," his campaign read.
In February, Salsman had pledged to "vigorously defending myself against these false allegations," in an email statement from his government address. He maintained his innocence but several of his staff testified saying they saw women leaving his office looking uncomfortable. Salsman's clients included women who had struggled with addictions and had been victims of sexual abuse amongst other vulnerabilities that he took advantage of, jurors wrote in a report in February.
They also detailed an instance where Salsman stopped charging legal fees to a client after she started to have sex with him. Another instance in the report stated Salsman directed a client, who said she had been raped, to enter his Towanda office through a back door and undress.
On May 7 he entered a plea agreement where he pleaded guilty to reduced charges of witness intimidation, promoting prostitution, and obstruction of justice, according to the Pennsylvania attorney general's office. Salsman's sentencing will take place on July 9. Under the plea agreement, he faces a maximum sentence of 11 years in state prison and a $25,000 fine.
Attorney General Josh Shapiro had said, "He picked these victims because they didn't have another choice," earlier this year. On Friday evening Shapiro took to his website to announce Salsman had pleaded guilty after a year-long investigation by the 5th Statewide Investigating Grand Jury in conjunction with the Office of Attorney General and the Pennsylvania State Police. "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," Shapiro's statement read.
"Today is a powerful reminder that no one is above the law. 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," his statement further read.