Portland police decided to revisit a masseuse's complaint that Al Gore sexually assaulted her in 2006 because "there were procedural issues with the 2009 investigation that merit re-opening the case," according to a police department press release issued Thursday.
The release does not specify what the "procedural issues" were, but it implies high-level police should have been brought in on the case, and were not. "There should have been command level review at the time on the specifics of this case and decisions on whether the investigation should go forward," the release states.
Molly Hagerty, 54, claims the former vice president groped and kissed her and made unwelcome sexual advances in an upscale hotel suite late one night in October 2006.
In the past seven days, Hagerty's allegations have been trumpeted in a pair of National Enquirer stories.
"I want justice served," Hagerty told the National Enquirer in a short story posted online Wednesday. The Enquirer says Hagerty has a "key witness who could blow the case wide open, the secret hotel video surveillance and the DNA evidence."
Gore family spokeswoman Kalee Kreider released a statement Wednesday evening disputing the therapist's accusation.
"Further investigation into this matter will only benefit Mr. Gore,'' she said. "The Gores cannot comment on every defamatory, misleading, and inaccurate story generated by tabloids. Mr. Gore unequivocally and emphatically denied this accusation when he first learned of its existence three years ago. He stands by that denial.''
The Portland Police Bureau issued its own statement on Wednesday, saying only that the department decided to re-open the case.
In December 2006 and January 2007 Hagerty complained through her lawyer, Randall Vogt, about the alleged sexual misconduct two months after her Oct. 24, 2006 late-night massage session, according to a Portland police statement last week. Hagerty, then unidentified, refused to meet with detectives on three occasions, police said.
Vogt, a specialist in sex crimes cases, told law enforcement officials at the time that Hagerty had decided to pursue civil, not criminal, action. The attorney, who no longer represents Hagerty, also contacted the FBI, the Oregon State Police and the U.S. Secret Service. In January 2009, Hagerty apparently changed her mind, and read a detailed, prepared statement to Portland sexual assault investigators. She remained unnamed, as a potential sex crime victim, until going public in the Enquirer on Wednesday.
As evidence, Hagerty offered police the black trousers she wore to the massage session at the city's upscale Hotel Lucia, where her past clients have included rock stars and professional athletes. She said the slacks were stained with what might be Gore's semen since he was wearing only a hotel bathrobe that tied in the front.
On Vogt's advice, she had the trousers tested for DNA traces. "I didn't have a lot of money," she said, but she paid $35 to a forensic analyst. The results were apparently inconclusive, and the Portland police did not request the slacks to conduct more sophisticated analysis, she said. She has kept the pants in a safe deposit box since 2006, along with a partially-eaten piece of chocolate she said Gore had bitten into.
Portland authorities declined to press charges, citing insufficient evidence of a sex crime (click for audio
versions of the 72-page Portland police report). Hagerty's allegations included claims that Gore, 62, requested she massage his groin area and lower abdomen, that he placed her hand in his pubic area, fondled her breast and buttocks and threw himself on top of her on a bed, whereupon she loudly called him "you big lummox," before managing to shove him away. She also told police she addressed him as, "a crazed sex poodle, hoping he would realize how weird he was being, yet he persisted."
Hagerty told police she did not immediately bolt from the hotel suite because "I feared that if I ran for the door to get out, I could or would be violently accosted by some security detail." On the night in question, Gore did not have Secret Service protection. Hagerty, a licensed massage therapist for 15 years, also said she feared for her livelihood because the hotel often booked her services for its guests. Gore's session cost $540, she said.
The latest issue of the Enquirer--which hit New York and Los Angeles newsstands on Wednesday but won't be available elsewhere until late this week or early next--includes statements from a Hagerty friend whom she phoned about the alleged attack several hours after it happened.
"I was shocked when she called and woke me me around 4 a.m.," said computer consultant Dwight Boatman, whom she's known for 20 years. "When I picked up, she was in tears. She told me she was assaulted...Mr. Gore groped her and threw her down on the bed....Molly's never lied to me. She's one of the most honest people I've ever met."
Hagerty also hopes, since Gore was such a high-profile guest, that the hotel has videotape from security cameras in the hallway, and in the lobby that would corroborate her story of being visibly shaken while leaving.
Enquirer editor Barry Levine would not discuss whether Hagerty was paid for the stories about her -- anonymously in the first one (which included a photo that had her face was blurred out) and by name with a full photo in the second.
"While we practice checkbook journalism, we don't comment on specific stories," he told me by phone Thursday morning.
He called the re-opened police probe "a good development. It's obviously something this woman wants. There is evidence that was overlooked. Let the police look at it all."
Hagerty's Enquirer allegations come just weeks after Al and Tipper Gore announced they were splitting after 40 years of marriage and four children. Al Gore, an Academy Award and Nobel Prize winner, lost the 2000 presidential election to George W. Bush.
The Portland police concluded their Thursday news release with this paragraph:
"The decision to re-open the case was solely made by the Portland Police Bureau. It is our responsibility to both parties involved to conduct a thorough, fair and timely investigation. As with any open investigation, it is inappropriate for the Police Bureau to comment on any specifics regarding the investigation. We ask for the public's patience as we let the facts of the investigation guide us and ensure the integrity of the investigation."