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Former Erie County official sentenced to five years in prison

Posted: 2:28 PM, Apr 12, 2019
Updated: 2019-04-12 18:38:17Z
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BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Former Erie County Department of Social Services Commissioner Al Dirschberger has been sentenced to five years in prison, followed by 10 years of post-release supervision.

Last month, following a week-long trial Dirschberger was found guilty of rape, criminal sexual assault and criminal sex acts by a jury in Albany County Court.

The jury concluded Dirschberger engaged in sexual intercourse and oral sexual conduct with a female victim without her consent in an Albany hotel room.

"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," commented DA David Soares.

Dirschberger suddenly resigned in December 2017 following what was referred to at the time as an "alleged serious incident" involving a subordinate employee during a business trip in Albany.

His decision to resign came as a shock to officials , but some said there may have been warning signs of the type of person he was, with an anonymous source saying Dirschberger was known to have an "aggressive" personality.

In January 2018, Dirschberger pleaded not guilty to sexual assault charges , which included two counts of rape in the third degree.

The woman who was raped by Dirschberger came forward in March 2018 and accused Erie County of "being aware of sexual harassment and/or abuse by Al Dirschberger while employed by Erie County, and negligently allowing said conduct to continue unabated."

In July 2018 an independent investigation found that Erie County had "no prior knowledge" of harassment by Dirschberger.

As a result of the investigation, the law firm established a confidential Erie County sexual harassment hotline.