Citing a "lack of credible evidence," including conflicting witness statements, the Portland area district attorney declined on Friday to charge Vice President Al Gore with sexual misconduct as alleged by Oregon masseuse Molly Hagerty.
In two recent National Enquirer
stories, Hagerty claimed Gore groped, fondled and forcibly kissed her during an October 2006 massage session in his Hotel Lucia suite while he was in Portland to give a speech. Hagerty, who originally refused to talk to police while deciding whether to file a civil suit against Gore, did not give the police her version of events until January 2009.
Earlier this month, Portland police interviewed Gore about the matter in San Francisco. He was with his attorneys, who had been given police questions in advance.
Gore "categorically denied" Hagerty's allegations, saying he was "completely baffled" by them, Multnomah County District Attorney Michael D. Schrunk said in an eight-page statement released Friday. The county includes Portland. Gore told the police he remembered nothing unusual about the session, which lasted nearly three hours and cost $540.
Gore family spokeswoman Kalee Kreider hailed Friday's decision not to go forward with the case, saying Gore "unequivocally and emphatically denied this accusation when he first learned of its existence three years ago. He respects and appreciates the thorough and professional work of the Portland authorities and is pleased that this matter has now been resolved."
National Enquirer executive editor Barry Levine, who refused to tell me earlier this month whether or how much Hagerty might have been paid for her story, declined to discuss Friday's development. "We've made the decision not to comment," he said in an e-mail. Kohel Haver, Hagerty's lawyer who specializes in entertainment and media matters, did not return two call to his office.
When the Enquirer stories broke, the Portland Police Bureau reopened the case,
interviewing Gore, Hagerty, her friends, her ex-husband, fellow massage therapists and hotel staff, among others. The masseuse earlier took her story to the Portland Tribune, which in November 2008 chose not to publish an article because, Schrunk said, its investigation "raises credibility concerns about Ms. Hagerty."
Schrunk's press release said he backed the police findings that "a sustainable criminal case does not exist." While Hagerty's allegations, if true, would constitute a sexual offense under state law, her detailed statement "is insufficient to support a criminal charge given other contradictory evidence, conflicting witness statements, credibility issues, lack of forensic evidence and denials by Mr. Gore."
Among discrepancies Schrunk noted: A call by the red-headed Hagerty to Gore shortly after the alleged incident, during which she told him to " 'dream of redheaded women tonight,' seemingly in contradiction to her assertions that she was terrified of Mr. Gore." Hagerty told detectives she used this language because she feared Gore was angry with her. She hoped he would take the events "to the dream world so he would be less likely to complain to the hotel staff," and thus jeopardize her business there, Schrunk wrote. Gore told the police he has no recollection of that call. Hagerty also called the hotel to thank management for the Gore referral, with no mention of unwanted sexual advances.
Schrunk noted that forensic testing of the black trousers Hagerty wore that night -- which she kept in a plastic bag in a safety deposit box because she thought they might contain incriminating Gore DNA -- "are negative for the presence of seminal fluid."
Although the police did not give her a polygraph test, which are questionable measures of credibility, Hagerty's civil lawyer, Judy Snyder, arranged for her to take one. Hagerty failed it, but in disclosing its existence to the police, Snyder "asked the detectives not to document that failure in their reports," Schrunk said. The police requested copies of the polygraph, but none were forthcoming. They also were not given medical reports that could buttress Hagerty's claim of physical injury as she tried to wrestle Gore off her. A call to Snyder's office was referred to Haver.
Other influencing factors, according to the district attorney's statement: "It appears Ms. Hagerty was paid by the National Enquirer for her story; and Mr. Gore voluntarily met with detectives and denied all of the allegations."
The Enquirer has also published allegations
of unwanted sexual advances by two other masseuses who worked on Gore; both remain unidentified, as do the hotels in Beverly Hills and Tokyo. "Although outside of this jurisdiction, the complaints, if true, could potentially be used as evidence here," Schrunk wrote. "Mr. Gore strongly denied these newly reported allegations."