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Former Erie County official found guilty of rape

Posted at 4:01 PM, Mar 01, 2019

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — A former Erie County official has been found guilty of rape and criminal sex acts by a jury in Albany County Court.

According to prosecutors, former Social Services Commissioner Al Dirschberger raped a woman during a trip to Albany for the New York State Public Welfare Association Conference in December 2017. She believed that Erie County had known of abuse occurring in the DSS offices, yet did nothing.

An independent investigation done by the Lemire Law Firm found Erie County had "no prior knowledge" of harassment by Dirschberger.

Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz released this statement after the jury returned a guilty verdict:

“Today’s verdict confirms my administration took the correct course of action in performing an immediate investigation of the incident upon learning of it and asking for the defendant’s resignation after confirming that he had violated numerous Erie County policies. Independent counsel retained by the Legislature also confirmed that my administration acted quickly and appropriately in this case and cooperated fully with investigators and law enforcement as the case moved forward. Additionally, it should be noted that Erie County declined to provide a defense or indemnity for the defendant upon learning of these charges as his actions did not fall within the scope of his public employment or duties. I do not tolerate any form of sexual misconduct, especially the abhorrent conduct in this case, and my thoughts are with the victim at this time.”

Dirschberger faces up to 4 years in prison on each count when he is sentenced in April.

“This victim was forced in to sexual contact by a person with power over her, despite repeatedly telling him “No” and being too intoxicated to legally consent. We are proud to deliver justice to her and to those who have supported and believed her,” says Albany District Attorney David Soares.