BRADFORD COUNTY, PA (WBNG) -- The Pennsylvania Attorney General's Office Wednesday announced charges against Bradford County District Attorney Chad Salsman for a number of sex crimes.
The 45th Statewide Investigative Grand Jury charged Salsman with multiple offenses in which he "would regularly use his position" to "coerce his victims into performing sexual acts on him".
Salsman was elected district attorney in Bradford County in 2019. According to the Bradford County government's website, Salsman "serves as district attorney, directing all criminal prosecutions, two assistant DA's, four supporting staff, and a county detective.
Salsman practice law privately since 2001.
The charges, announced during a news conference, stem from Salsman's relationship with his clients while he was operating his private law office in Towanda.
"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," said Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro.
According to the Grand Jury, Salsman demonstrated a pattern of preying on vulnerable victims.
"In one case, Salsman assaulted a woman whom he knew had been the victim of a prior violent rape. In another case, Salsman assaulted a woman who faced incarceration if Salsman did not help her," documents stated.
The Grand Jury said Salsman would have sex with women on his office desk and then had them "clean up" in his private bathroom. Court documents said the crimes happened against five women at various times between late 2017 to late 2020.
"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 assaulted them", Shapiro said. "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."
The Grand Jury charges include three counts of sexual assault, five counts of indecent assault, 12 counts of intimidation of a witness or victim, one count of obstruction of justice, and one count of prostitution.
Shapiro said Salsman pressured one woman who sought his help regarding a child custody matter into engaging in sexual acts "in exchange for his legal services".
"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."
The Grand Jury also heard from employees of his private law firm, who testified that Salsman would frequently meet with female clients one-on-one.
They stated Salsman would keep the details of some client's files secret, even 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 their air conditioner to drown out the sounds of his meetings with clients," the news release stated.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant Chief Deputy Attorney General Daniel J. Dye.