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No verdict reached in Salsbury rape trial, jury reconvenes Tuesday

  • At left, Arthur E. Salsbury Jr., 41, of Ware, and his attorney, David Mintz, in Hampshire Superior Court on Tuesday.  GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 5/24/2019 5:40:31 PM

NORTHAMPTON — A jury heard two very different narratives Friday before going into deliberation in the rape trial of former Ware tow truck driver Arthur E. Salsbury Jr.

Salsbury, 42, is being tried in Hampshire Superior Court for allegedly raping a woman in Dufresne Park in Granby on Feb. 23, 2018.

The woman has testified that she was picked up by Salsbury in Holyoke, thinking he was another man, someone she had chatted with online about exchanging sex for money. She alleges that Salsbury ignored her requests to go home, drove her to the park and raped her, after which she says she fled into a swamp before seeking assistance at a nearby home.

As a matter of policy, the Gazette does not typically identify victims of rape or sexual assault.

Salsbury was charged with two counts of aggravated rape and one count of kidnapping in the trial.

In his closing argument, Salsbury’s attorney, David Mintz, conceded that his client had been in Dufresene Park and had had sex with his accuser.

“The commonwealth has met its burden in proving that he was there,” Mintz said. 

But he said that what happened between Salsbury and his accuser that night is not known to him or the prosecution and that the ultimate question is whether or not the accuser is telling the truth.

Mintz said that the accuser did not tell the police that she was a sex worker or that she was under the influence of heroin on the night of the alleged assault.

He brought forward the theory that Salsbury and the accuser had gone to the park and had consensual sex for money. He said that they got into an argument and that perhaps Salsbury had gotten angry and left her in the park. Mintz said that the accuser then tried to cut through the woods, got stuck in a swamp and passed out, after which she went to a nearby home freezing cold and, because she was angry at Salsbury for leaving her, said that she was raped.

“What was a sex-for-money deal turned into a rape allegation,” Mintz said.

Mintz said that his client lied when he was interviewed by police, but that he did so because he didn’t want his wife and family to know he was drinking and driving, using cocaine and picking up prostitutes.

Mintz said that the accuser did not properly identify the make, model or color of the car that Salsbury drove that night, and that this misidentification was relevant to her state of mind. Additionally, Mintz noted that the accuser said she had a blue lighter on her that night, and, when she was showed a picture of a black lighter at the scene of the alleged crime, she said that she had had a black lighter on her as well.

Mintz also said that, even though she had her phone on her, the accuser did not reach out to anyone on it via messaging or texting asking for help.

“That’s all she needed to do, and she didn’t do it,” he said.

He also noted differences in the stories the woman gave about the alleged assault on the stand and to the police. 

“It’s her credibility that’s at the heart of this case,” he said.

Mintz also said that the police did not ask for the accuser’s phone or Salsbury’s phone to gather evidence from either.

In her closing argument, Assistant District Attorney Jennifer Suhl said that the jury knows how to assess the credibility of a witness.

“You know how to decide if someone is lying or not,” she said.

Suhl noted that the accuser admitted on the stand to using heroin and selling sex for money in the past.

“Do you think that was something she wanted to come into this public courtroom and say?” asked Suhl. “She didn’t hide things from you.”

She also asked the jury to evaluate the accuser’s testimony as it would any other witness.

Suhl said the scene that the police found at the park after the alleged rape matched what was described by the accuser.

“It corroborates her testimony,” Suhl said. 

She also said that, when questioned by police, Salsbury was wearing a dirty yellow sweatshirt that matched the description of the one she said the defendant was wearing that night. And she said that on the morning of Feb. 23, Salsbury texted into work that he was sick.

“These aren’t coincidences,” said Suhl. “This is evidence. This is corroboration.” Suhl asked why the accuser would go into the swamp voluntarily.

“She did that because she was scared for her life,” Suhl told the jury. 

She also asked if it seemed reasonable for the accuser to fabricate rape to get into someone’s home.

Turning to the subject of Salsbury, she said he had told the police that the last time he was in Dufresne Park was one or two years ago, and that Salsbury did not tell the police that he had consensual sex with his accuser when questioned by them.

The jury did not reach a verdict on Friday and will resume deliberations on Tuesday.

In 2018, Salsbury was indicted on charges related to the rapes of five different women. Charges related to three of the alleged victims have been dropped, while the commonwealth is going forward with two separate trials, one of which is his current one.

Bera Dunau can be reached at 

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