Pennsylvania DA is charged with sexually assaulting clients before his election
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A Pennsylvania district attorney has been charged with sexual assault and indecent assault in connection with alleged coerced sex acts with five women who were his clients when he was in private practice.
Bradford County District Attorney Chad Salsman was charged by a state investigative grand jury, Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro announced Wednesday.
Law360, Law.com, the PhillyVoice and the Elmira Star-Gazette are among the publications that covered the charges.
Salsman won an election for district attorney in 2019. The outgoing district attorney referred the case against Salsman to Shapiro, according to the PhillyVoice.
“Chad Salsman would regularly use his position and power as an attorney to coerce his victims into performing sexual acts on him,” Shapiro alleged in a press release. “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.”
Some of the clients were criminal defendants, and some were involved in custody cases. Shaprio alleged that Salsman took advantage of the women’s vulnerabilities to exploit and then silence them.
Salsman is accused of having sexual intercourse with three of the women, having indecent contact with those three women and two others, waiving attorney fees for sexual intercourse with one of the women, trying to intimidate the women to prevent them from reporting the misconduct to police or prosecutors, and suggesting that one of the women should not cooperate in the investigation.
According to Shapiro’s allegations, Salsman would intimidate and coerce the women into unwanted sexual acts on his desk and then direct them to a bathroom in his office to clean up.
Staff from Salsman’s law firm testified that he had a policy of having them play music, run noise machines or run the air conditioner to drown out the sounds of the client meetings. They also said they repeatedly saw female clients leave his office in tears.
One of the women had confided that she was previously raped, Shapiro said. On a later visit, Salsman allegedly instructed the woman to go into the back entrance of his office and to undress. She said she complied out of fear.
The five women didn’t know each other, and they corroborated information known only to other victims, Shapiro said.
The charges include sexual assault, indecent assault, witness intimidation and obstruction of justice.
Salsman’s lawyer, Samuel Stretton, told Law.com that the charges are not accurate, and Salsman is “absolutely and totally innocent.” Stretton vowed to “fight this vigorously.”