The former commissioner for the Erie County Department of Social Services is accused of rape. Al Dirschberger’s appeared in state Supreme Court in Albany County on Monday afternoon.
Dirschberger pleaded Not Guilty to felony counts of 3rd Degree Rape and 3rd Degree Committing a Criminal Sexual Act. A grand jury delivered a sealed indictment last week, which was opened Monday at the arraignment.
In it, are allegations Dirschberger engaged in sexual intercourse and oral sex with an adult woman without her consent late December 5th and early morning December 6th. The indictment said he was at a hotel in the city of Albany.
Late last month, we learned Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz asked for the commissioner’s resignation after learning about accusations. Poloncarz said the alleged incident happened while Dirschberger, in his capacity with the county, was at conference in Albany and it involved a female subordinate. A spokesperson for the county executive said he stands by previous statements that everybody deserves a fair trial but if he is guilty he should be punished in accordance with the law.
Dirschberger’s lawyer released a statement this afternoon claiming his innocence emphatically.
“Dr. Dirschberger looks forward to the opportunity to provide his side of the story and fully defend himself,” attorney Nicholas Romano said. “His exemplary and unblemished record of over 30 years as a social worker, an educator, and a public servant speaks for itself. He is innocent and, to that end, will request a speedy trial to exonerate himself.”
Dirschberger also served as an assistant coach for the Niagara University baseball team. The university released a statement Monday and said he has not been with the team since December 29.

“Niagara University takes matters such as these very seriously. We are aware of the allegations against Al Dirschberger and we have placed him on administrative leave from his responsibilities with the Purple Eagles softball team,” a university spokesperson said.

The judge set the former commissioner’s bail at $5,000. The court has yet to schedule Dirschberger’s next appearance.