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Four sentenced in Fire Department cases

WOODSTOCK — One current and three former members of the Strasburg Fire Department, including the former fire chief and current member Dale King, were sentenced to jail Thursday for periods varying from one to three months following their convictions on misdemeanor charges of contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

Deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney Louis Campola accused Andrew Key, Fabian Sosa, Nathan Hirschberg and King of having sex with a 17-year-old girl. (The Northern Virginia Daily does not name the victims of alleged sex crimes.)

Two of the defendants  — King, 36, and Hirschberg, 26, — were convicted as a result of pleading no contest. The other two — Key, 24, and Sousa, 25, — were found guilty by Judge Kevin Black at the conclusion of trials. Black roundly condemned all of the defendants he sentenced.

“The day society allows the adults to prey on the juveniles…is a day that we don’t have a moral compass,” Black said during Key’s sentencing in Shenandoah County Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court.

Black described King, 36, as “the enabler of a lot of what transpired.” The victim testified in court that King supplied her with alcohol at a party at his house.

The victim added that she had arranged to have sex and had sex with Hirschberg and Key during that party.

Additionally, Campola said that King had sex with the victim and that the victim’s mother was prepared to testify that she had told King the age of the victim. But King pleaded no contest, and the victim’s mother never testified.

Black gave King a 12-month sentence, with 10 of those months suspended. That would mean that King would spend at least two months in jail.

Harsh accusations were also leveled against Bradly Markin, 21, a former department member, and Chris Pangle, 32, who served as operations captain until March.

During the proceedings, Virginia State Police Special Agent Joseph Root said that Key had told him that Markin had filmed 10 seconds of a sexual encounter between the victim and Hirschberg and Sosa and shared it on the social media site Snapchat.

The victim accused Pangle of raping her during a sexual encounter at King’s house during her testimony in Key’s trial.

Markin’s case has been continued, while Campola dismissed the charges against Pangle. Former Strasburg Fire Department President Glenn Mason said Pangle served as operations captain for the department until March. The decision to drop the charge against Pangle allows Campola to charge Pangle at a later date, possibly in adult court, although it is not clear whether or not he will do so.

Campola has not responded to a request for comment.

The victim said that Key and Hirschberg, who was a training captain for the Fire Department in 2017, both had sex with her during a party at King’s house during which she was drunk.

During his trial, Key, who served as a lieutenant for the department in 2017, acknowledged that he had sex with the victim but said that he thought she was older than 18 at the time.

“I thought she was at least 21 because she had served [Fire Department members] alcohol,” Key said.

But Key’s argument did not satisfy Black, who said that Key and Hirschberg “knowingly predated on this young lady.”

“These guys are people in the community and to profess ignorance of who they’re dealing with doesn’t matter to me,” Black said during Hirschberg’s sentencing.

Black sentenced Key to 12 months in jail, with 11 of those months suspended. That will leave Key with a 30-day prison sentence.

Hirschberg pleaded no contest. His attorney, Brandon Keller, said that Hirschberg had sex with the victim and acted inappropriately.

“Certainly, it’s offensive to any of us with sound mind and judgment to hear any of this,” Keller said.

But Keller argued against giving Hirschberg any jail time. He said that the arrangements Hirschberg made ahead of time suggested he was not trying to take advantage of the girl.

That argument did not satisfy Black, however. Black gave Hirschberg the harshest sentence of the day: a 12-month sentence, with nine of those months suspended. That will leave Hirschberg spending at least three months in jail.

Black gave Sosa the lightest sentence, a six-month sentence with five of those months suspended.

Sosa said during his testimony that he had not made any arrangements to have sex with the victim, which Black said made his actions less egregious than the actions of Key and Hirschberg.


Correction: This story has been updated. An earlier version incorrectly stated that the victim told investigators that her sex with Fabian Sosa was not consensual.  In fact, the victim’s mother showed investigators screen shots indicating that the sex with Sosa was not consensual, according to an affidavit filed in January.

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