A Pennsylvania district attorney has pleaded guilty to pressuring clients to have sex with him in his office when he was a defense attorney, and using a noise cancelling machine to muffle the sound, then coercing them to keep quiet about it.
Bradford County District Attorney Chad Salsman, who resigned from office Friday, previously claimed the allegations were a pack of ‘vicious lies’ and that he was the victim of a political smear by the state’s top prosecutor.
Salsman, who took office a year ago, was charged February 3rd with sexually assaulting women who were his clients in criminal and child custody cases when he worked as a defense attorney.
Chad Michael Salsman, 44, a prosecutor in Bradford County, has pleaded guilty to charges of sexual and indecent assault and witness intimidation. Pictured: Salsman is escorted into Magisterial District Court, Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2021
Salsman (pictured) elected in November 2019, had admitted to charges that he manipulated several women into unwanted sexual acts and sexually assaulted them
The accusers told a grand jury that he groped them, sought nude photos, and pressured or forced them into sexual acts, sometimes on his office desk.
Salsman, elected in November 2019, manipulated several women into unwanted sexual acts and sexually assaulted them, prosecutors said.
Witnesses claimed that he would use music or a noise cancelling machine to drown out the sounds coming from his office.
After the Republican DA forced them into unwanted sex acts, he then directed them into his private bathroom to ‘clean up’.
Complaints say once they had done so with paper towels and wet wipes, he then threatened the woman into silence over the incidents.
Salsman pleaded guilty to reduced charges of witness intimidation, promoting prostitution and obstruction of justice, according to the Pennsylvania attorney general’s office.
Under the plea agreement, Salsman still faces a maximum sentence of 11 years in state prison and a $25,000 fine. Salsman will be sentenced July 9.
‘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 Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh 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.’
After Salsman was first charged, he emailed a statement from his Bradford County government address that cast the accusations as ‘vicious lies’ and pledged to ‘vigorously defending myself against these false allegations.’
Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro (pictured in 2019, file photo) said in a statement: ‘Despite Mr. Salsman’s efforts to interfere in the investigation and his claims that the grand jury was politically motivated, today he is taking responsibility for his actions.’
He added: ‘Anyone who knows me knows that the picture the Attorney General is painting is not Chad Salsman.’
But several of Salsman’s staff testified to seeing women leaving his office in distress, and that their boss went to great lengths to hide the abuse during his time working for the private sector
‘Many of Salsman’s clients struggled with addictions, had a history of being sexually abused, or suffered from other vulnerabilities which Salsman exploited. He used his knowledge of their vulnerabilities to overcome their lack of consent and sexually assault them,’ the jurors wrote in a report earlier this year.
In once instance, authorities detailed how Salsman stopped charging a client in a custody case after she began having sex with him.
They said a woman told Salsman she had been raped, and he subsequently directed her to enter his office in Towanda through a back door and undress.
Several of Salsman’s staff testified to seeing women leaving his office in distress, and that their boss went to great lengths to hide the abuse during his time working for the private sector
Under the plea agreement, Salsman still faces a maximum sentence of 11 years in state prison and a $25,000 fine
‘He picked these victims because they didn’t have another choice,’ state Attorney General Josh Shapiro told reporters at the Bradford courthouse earlier this year.
White Noise machines
Witnesses claimed that Chad Michael Salsman would use a noise cancelling machine to drown out the sounds coming from his office.
These work by playing white noise – which is when sound waves of a broad spectrum of frequencies are emitted.
This forms a sound similar to the constant hum of a fan, that drowns out other noise in the background.
White noise machines are often used by people who have trouble sleeping in loud environments, to drown out the sound traffic, for example.
The sound emitted by a white noise machine, in many cases, sounds similar to wind blowing through trees or a rushing waterfall – background noises that are not intrusive.
‘Because he thought they would be easy to silence. And likely they would be less believed if they ever came forward.’
Salsman, 44, has been the top prosecutor in the rural county along the New York State border since early 2020.
The attorney general’s office said one of the assault allegations dates to the period between Salsman’s November 2019 election and his swearing-in as district attorney.
Salsman, a Republican, accused Attorney General Shapiro, a Democrat, of turning his case into a media spectacle, complaining about being handcuffed and ‘paraded in front of television cameras.’
‘With this admission of guilt, the Office of Attorney General has ensured Salsman faces serious consequences, without retraumatizing vulnerable victims who came forward and testified to the Grand Jury. Despite Mr. Salsman’s efforts to interfere in the investigation and his claims that the Grand Jury was politically motivated, today he is taking responsibility for his actions.’
Salsman ‘pressured clients into prostitution for legal services and used his power as a private attorney, and then as district attorney, to repeatedly harass, coerce, and intimidate victims,’ the attorneys general’s office said.
‘He has compromised the sacred public trust, and he is not fit to serve as district attorney,’ Shapiro said.
The grand jury also said there were other women who recounted similar attacks, but the cases occurred too long ago for criminal charges. Salsman began practicing law in 2001.
An email was sent to Salsman’s attorney seeking comment on the plea.
The victims of Pennsylvania DA Chad Michael Salsman
Victim 1: ‘L.J.’
In 2017, Salsman was representing a woman on charges of harassment and possession of drug paraphernalia. Salsman did not bill ‘L.J’ but instead ordered her to provide nude photographs and videos of her and her girlfriend.
Salsman groped the victim in his office multiple times. In one incident, he allegedly ordered her to disrobe and raped her.
The victim and her girlfriend testified to the grand jury.
Victim 2: ‘H.H.’
In December of that same year, Salsman represented ‘H.H’ in a child custody case.
Salsman ‘suggestive comments and would touch her under the table during court proceedings.’
H.H. repeatedly declined offers of sex with Salsman and requests for videos. Ultimately, after Salsman said he was not being ‘adequately compensated for his representation’ H.H. sent nude pictures to him.
H.H. testified ‘that Salsman told her that he masturbated dozens of times a day’ and sent her pictures of her home without her knowledge.
Two years later, in April 2019 H.H. went to change who was representing her and went to Salsman’s office to obtain her file.
Salsman is said to have ‘forcibly grabbed her breasts while in his private office.’
H.H. also met with Salsman while wearing a wire where he was caught on tape telling her not to cooperate with the grand jury investigation.
Victim 3: ‘A.M.’
Salsman began representing ‘A.M.’ at the age of 19 in a child custody case.
After contacting him over a DUI arrest, she explained how she didn’t have money to pay for his services.
Salsman then began ‘coming onto’ her after that conversation. He said that ‘his wife wasn’t giving him what he needed at home.’
A.M. told the grand jury Salsman raped her in his private office on his desk. He told her to clean up using paper towels in his bathroom.
He is said to have touched her breasts and buttocks without consent, forced her to perform oral sex, and raped her several times.
Victim 4: ‘L.W.’
‘L.W.’ told the grand jury that Salsman represented her boyfriend and another man who had previously sexually assaulted her.
Salsman also hired L.W. and her boyfriend to do repair work at his office and loaned her money.
When she went to his office to repay the loan, Salsman took the money and ‘directed L.W. to undress,’ adding 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.
He told her to clean up using paper towels in his bathroom.
Before she left, he told her ‘not to breathe a word to anyone, or he would ruin her life.’
Victim 5: ‘N.A.’
Salsman represented ‘N.A.’ in a child custody case.
In December 2018 Salsman ‘began touching N.A.’s breasts in his office and touching her inappropriately during court proceedings.’
Salsman asked for nude pictures of her and said ‘she could compensate him for his legal work by having sex with him.
‘I could slam your p**** and you wouldn’t have to pay,’ he said.
‘N.A. began a consensual sex-for-services relationship with Salsman.’ When their ‘relationship soured, however, Salsman became more aggressive and threatening.’
Salsman told that nobody could know what had happened between them.
Some of Salsman’s staff also testified to the grand jury confirming he had ‘one-on-one’ meetings with female clients and ‘went to great lengths to keep his interactions with his clients a secret from the staff.’
Salsman asked his secretaries to play music or to switch on the air conditioning unit or a white noise making machine to ‘mask any sounds or noise occurring in his office.’
‘Female clients were seen leaving Salsman’s office in tears or in distress,’ one staff member testified.
Another staffer testified how, Salsman ‘directed her to report back to him anything that occurred within the grand jury’ despite being ordered by the judge not to disclose any of her testimony.