TOWANDA, Pa. (AP) — A Pennsylvania district attorney vowed Friday to remain in office while he fights sexual assault charges, maintaining his innocence and complaining that he was handcuffed and “paraded in front of television cameras” by the state attorney general. Bradford County District Attorney Chad Salsman, who took office a year ago, was charged with sexually assaulting women who were his clients in criminal and child custody cases when he worked as a defense attorney.

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.

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In a statement emailed Friday from his Bradford County government address, Salsman cast the accusations as “vicious lies” and pledged to “vigorously defending myself against these false allegations.” He added: “Anyone who knows me knows that the picture the Attorney General is painting is not Chad Salsman.”

State prosecutors said Salsman told women to keep quiet about his attacks, and people who worked in his law firm told investigators they repeatedly saw female clients leave his office crying. He was charged Wednesday with three counts of sexual assault, five counts of indecent assault, witness intimidation, obstruction, and promoting prostitution.

Salsman, a Republican, accused Attorney General Josh Shapiro, a Democrat, of turning his case into a media spectacle. He also asserted that Shapiro’s office told him that if he resigned office, “they would treat me less harshly. If I continued to maintain my innocence, they would handle things much differently. Because I committed no crimes, I refused their offer and they kept their word to publicly humiliate me and attempt to destroy my life and career.”

Shapiro’s office said a grand jury considered the evidence against Salsman as it would in any other case, adding the public “has a right to understand charges against a sitting public official.”

“Mr. Salsman’s allegations trying to politicize his arrest and this investigation are false,” said Shapiro’s spokesperson, Jacklin Rhoads.

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Salsman said he has turned over trial and courtroom work to his assistants while his criminal case is pending. He said he will continue to set policy and supervise the district attorney’s office.

Salsman, 44, was elected in November 2019.

(©Copyright 2021 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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