Police in Portland reopen inquiry of sex allegation against Gore

Portland, Ore. police are taking a second look at 2006 police report alleging sexual assault against former Vice President Al Gore by a masseuse. Bill Plante reports.
By Carol D. Leonnig and Philip Rucker
Friday, July 2, 2010

Police in Portland, Ore., on Thursday revived their investigation of a sexual assault allegation against former vice president Al Gore after his accuser came forward publicly and police acknowledged that they had not followed standard procedures before ending an earlier inquiry.

The department's admission of incomplete police work came after the massage therapist who accused Gore detailed what she said happened in an exclusive interview with the National Enquirer and the newspaper produced an account by a witness who said he talked to the woman shortly after the alleged assault in 2006.

Investigators typically interview potential corroborating witnesses and anyone accused, law enforcement officers say, and also consult with prosecutors. In this case, officers interviewed the woman, Molly Hagerty, producing a 53-page account, and then dropped the case without any additional investigation or interviews, concluding that there was insufficient evidence. They did not seek Gore's account or consult with the county district attorney's office before closing the case, they confirmed, something a Portland Police Bureau representative said they should have done.

The bureau issued a statement declining to discuss the details of the reopened investigation but confirming problems in closing the earlier inquiry.

"In reviewing this case, we have determined there were procedural issues with the 2009 investigation that merit reopening the case. 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," Police Chief Michael Reese said.

As a result, police spokesman Greg Stewart said Thursday, "we are going back and reviewing the material to be as thorough and as accurate as possible."

Bureau investigators contacted attorneys for Gore, 62, as part of the renewed investigation.

"I can confirm that the Portland bureau has reached out to us, and we welcome it," said Kalee Kreider, a spokeswoman for Gore.

Gore issued a statement Wednesday that denied an allegation made by Hagerty, 54, who said publicly this week that he assaulted her in his room at a Portland luxury hotel.

Hagerty initially declined in 2006 to file a formal sexual assault complaint and made allegations through her attorney. She went to the police herself in 2009 to make a formal complaint, after the Portland Tribune declined to publish information it had obtained from her and internal police records.

After hearing the announcement last month that Gore and his wife, Tipper, planned to separate, Hagerty turned to the Enquirer -- and was paid for her story. Executive Editor Barry Levine said the newspaper rejected a $1 million request from Hagerty's attorney but acknowledged that "we do sometimes pay for exclusivity."

"Al Gore is a pervert and a sexual predator," Hagerty told the tabloid. "He's not what people think he is -- he's a sick man!"

She did not respond to multiple e-mails and messages from The Washington Post over the past week. She told the Enquirer that she came forward because she "did not want him to get away with it."

Kreider said Wednesday that the Gores "cannot comment on every defamatory, misleading, and inaccurate story generated by tabloids."

Over the past four years, Hagerty was unable to get police and news organizations to act on her allegation against Gore, who was visiting Portland in 2006 to attend a fundraiser for the governor and to deliver a climate speech.

In 1998, according to court records, Hagerty sought a restraining order against an ex-boyfriend who she said had assaulted her in a park two years earlier and had since spoken to her "in a menacing tone." The request was denied.

Staff writer Howard Kurtz and research editor Alice Crites contributed to this report.

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