ALBANY – On the first full day of testimony in the rape case against former Erie County Social Services Commissioner Al Dirschberger, jurors Tuesday heard a recorded conversation between Dirschberger and an employee with whom he had sex at an Albany conference in December 2017.
In the conversation, the woman, a lower level children's services employee, told Dirschberger that he had hurt her and that there was blood on her hotel bedsheets. She accused Dirschberger of raping her while she was intoxicated in her hotel room.
"You raped me," she told Dirschberger in a conversation recorded by Albany Police the morning after the incident.
"What? No I did not!" Dirschberger exclaimed. "Oh my God. No I did not."
"I remember saying no, and I remember saying that it hurt," said the woman.
The Buffalo News does not identify alleged victims of sexual assault without their consent and is not naming the woman.
"I swear to God, I did not do that," Dirschberger said. "I would not do that, I have so much respect for you."
Tuesday marks the first full day of trial in Albany County Court after jury selection and opening statements on Monday.
Dirschberger resigned his position on Dec. 28, 2017, at County Executive Mark Poloncarz's request, after county officials learned he was under investigation. He pleaded not guilty to third-degree rape and third-degree criminal sexual act at his arraignment before Albany County Court Judge Roger McDonough, who is presiding over the case.
Dirchberger, 54, was indicted on charges he raped the woman, then 28, while she was unable to consent in the late hours of Dec. 5 and early morning hours of Dec. 6 at the Renaissance Hotel in downtown Albany. The woman, who works in the Children's Services division of the Department of Social Services, went to the hospital after the alleged incident and subsequently spoke with police. She was placed on paid administrative leave.
Dirschberger told police that the two made out in her hotel room and had repeated, consensual sex after both of them had too much to drink. In the recorded conversation with the woman, he said she invited him to her room and verbally encouraged his actions during the night.
In the same conversation, the woman told Dirschberger she did not remember inviting him in or encouraging him to have sex with her. Instead, she recalls telling him to stop and that he was hurting her.
"If you had seen the blood on the bed and what I looked like, Al, I looked awful," she told him.
As the conversation went on, Dirschberger expressed increasing alarm, saying he showed "poor judgment" but had not raped her. He repeatedly asked what he could do to make the matter right.
"What do you want me to do? Quit, resign, leave?" he asked her. "I really am begging you work this through with me. I would never do that."
He asked her if she intended to speak with the police and said such an accusation would ruin him. The woman answered that she no longer wanted to see him alone.
Later in the conversation, he told the woman, "I'm not lying."
"Well, I'm not lying either," she answered.
Albany Police Sgt. Daniel Flanders Jr. said he and another detective later traveled to Buffalo and interviewed Dirschberger. Dirschberger told them he and the woman had consensual sex three times after a night of drinking and said that if the woman declined to move forward with the case, he would voluntarily resign his position as social services commissioner.