On May 7th, 2021, former Bradford County District Attorney Chad Salsman pled guilty to promoting prostitution, obstruction of justice, and intimidation of victims before the Honorable Judge Joseph M. Augello. As a condition of the plea deal, Salsman had to resign from his position as District Attorney. All of Salsman’s other charges were dismissed; the prosecution stated that all five victims agreed to the plea deal as long as Salsman resigned and was found guilty of the felony charge of promoting prostitution.
The CSE Institute first reported on Salsman’s case in February 2021 following his initial arrest for three separate charges of sexual assault, five separate charges of indecent assault, twelve counts of intimidation of a witness or victim, one count of obstruction, and promoting prostitution. These charges arose from Salsman’s acts of regularly using his status as an attorney to entice five female clients he represented in criminal and child custody cases to perform sexual acts. Many of these assaults occurred in Salsman’s office with other staff present in the building. All five victims testified at the initial hearing that Salsman routinely intimidated the victims by using their own vulnerabilities regarding their criminal and custody cases to force them into performing unwanted sex acts. Salsman further told the victims not to inform anyone about their sexual encounters.
One victim testified that Salsman stopped charging her for legal services once she “gave in to his advances.” This type of coercion implicates the statutory definition of sex trafficking. Under Pennsylvania law §§ 3011 and 3012, any sex act in exchange for anything of value by means of coercion constitutes sex trafficking. In this case, Salsman abused his power as an attorney by coercing the victim to perform sex acts in exchange for something of value, here, the exchange of free legal services for sex.
In a statement reacting to Salsman’s guilty plea, Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro said: “Chad Salsman used his position…to intimidate and silence his victims…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 CSE Institute applauds the Office of the Attorney General for seeking to combat sexual exploitation and public corruption by those in positions of power. The CSE Institute further commends the bravery of all five victims in coming forward against former District Attorney Salsman.