BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Erie County leaders were aware of previous sexual harassment claims against their former Commissioner of Social Services — and did nothing to protect the woman who says he man raped her repeatedly on a taxpayer-funded trip to Albany.
That’s the claim in new documents filed Tuesday with the Erie County Legislature.
Al Dirschberger, who resigned at the end of 2017, was indicted in January on rape and criminal sexual assault charges.
The charges stem from an alleged incident on Dec. 5-6, while the 53-year-old Dirschberger and his subordinate employee were attending a business conference in the state capital.
Dirschberger pleaded not guilty to the charges, and his attorneys have said repeatedly they intend to fight them.
The notice of claim — a required precursor to a lawsuit — filed by the victim’s attorney said Erie County was aware of the sexual harassment and/or abuse by Dirschberger.
The claim said the victim intends to sue for “pain and suffering sustained by reason of the wrongful, negligent and careless acts and/or omissions of the county of Erie,” and its agents.
The 28-year-old victim, who News4 is not naming, said the county is at fault “(d)espite having actual or constructive notice of the prior actions of Al Dirschberger, in sexually harassing or abusing County Employees, negligently failing to take the necessary actions to protect coemployees (sic), including the claimant.”
Erie County doesn’t typically comment on notice of claims because they are considered pending litigation. However, Peter Anderson, the county executive’s press secretary said “the County Executive and this office are not aware of any prior claims of harassment/abuse alleged to have been committed by Al Dirschberger.”