The big news tonight is that the Portland (Ore.) police have decided to take a fresh look at a masseuse's allegations that Al Gore sexually assaulted her in October 2006. The move seems to have been prompted by the decision of the woman, 54-year-old Molly Hagerty, to out herself in a National Enquirer story that went live earlier in the day.
"Consistent with our policy regarding open investigations, the Police Bureau will not be commenting on any additional specifics regarding this case at this time,'' a spokeswoman for the Portland police said.
Hagerty spoke exclusively to the Enquirer, which reported that she is in possession of "crucial DNA evidence" from her encounter with the former vice president, and that she also has a corroborating witness (a friend to whom she relayed details of the encounter hours after it happened) and a hotel surveillance tape to bolster her case.
Last week, when the Enquirer ran a story detailing Hagerty's police report (without naming her), the tabloid's executive editor said that she had asked for $1 million for her story -- but that the Enquirer had refused to pay anything. It is unclear whether any financial arrangements were made between then and now, although it appears that Hagerty provided the Enquirer with extensive cooperation in that time. After last week's story ran, the tabloid said that it had only conducted a brief interview with her.
Hagerty initially filed a complaint with Portland police through a lawyer in early 2007 -- several months after the supposed assault. She then refused to meet with police on three different occasions, only to step forward in early 2009 to make a voluntary statement to police. She then amended that statement in June 2009. Police declined to pursue the matter further, citing a lack of evidence.
Last week, Salon spoke with the executive editor of the Portland Tribune, a free weekly newspaper that learned of Hagerty's charges more than three years ago. The editor, Mark Garber, detailed the fairly exhaustive (and, at times, creative) efforts that the Tribune made to verify the story. Ultimately, after a two-year probe, the paper declined to print a single word on the matter.
“There were things that we discovered throughout our investigation that raised serious questions in our mind,” Garber told Salon.
Gore's spokeswoman, Kalee Kreider, released the following statement on Wednesday night: "Further investigation into this matter will only benefit Mr. Gore. 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."