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Former Erie County commissioner found guilty of rape

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Former Erie County Social Services commissioner Al Dirschberger has been convicted of raping a female subordinate by an Albany jury.The jury reached its verdict on the first day of deliberations after a week-long trial. Jurors found Dirschbeger, 53, guilty of one count of Rape in the Third Degree and one count of Criminal Sexual Act in the Third Degree, both Class E felonies.

Dirschberger was accused of raping a 28-year-old female co-worker at an Albany hotel on December 5 and 6, 2017. The two were attending a conference at the time and, according to testimony, had been drinking heavily the night in question.

Prosecutors said the woman was intoxicated when Dirschberger sexually assaulted her. Dirschberger insisted the encounter was consensual.

“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,” said Albany County District Attorney David Soares.

Dirschberger was remanded and faces up to four years in state prison on each count when he is sentenced on April 12.

According to The Buffalo News, Dirschberger was silent when the verdict was read. His lawyer said he plans to appeal.

Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz issued the following statement:

“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.”

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