The allegations of a 54-year-old Oregon masseuse that former vice president Al Gore made sexual advances against her in an October 2006 incident are turning out to be, well, hot air.
Late this past week, the Portland Tribune released a report detailing its own multiyear probe into the case: "Gore chase had no finish: With no evidence on pants, claims were hard to prove."
Contrary to press reports, the paper indicated it had taken seriously the allegations of a licensed masseuse that she was assaulted while giving Gore a massage in Portland hotel suite.
But the woman's story and claims had serious problems.
The Tribune noted that a key witness for the masseuse, someone she claimed to have told about the incident shortly after it happened, is now a homeless person.
The paper said: "At this point, the Tribune was contemplating an article about highly serious allegations by an unnamed woman who had flunked a polygraph and whose best ally able to vouch for her talking about the assault shortly after it happened was a local homeless man. We weren’t sure how credible the story would seem to readers."
According, the Tribune, Other parts of her story didn't add up:
- Why did she spend three hours in Gore's hotel room if he was engaging in inappropriate activity and why didn't she complain to hotel personnel? She told the paper that she thought the hotel wouldn't use her services again, and if she left Gore's room early, she would be “tased or shot" by Gore's security detail.
- "Two weeks ago, the television program 'Inside Edition' dug up Multnomah County court records that reveal [the masseuse] sought a 1998 restraining order against her former boyfriend. She alleged in the court filing that the man had assaulted her two years before, that he had more recently showed up at her work and that 'his presence and demeanor were threatening to me.' A Multnomah County judge rejected Hagerty’s request for the restraining order — on the same day it was filed — without giving a reason."
- The masseuse claimed that she had a semen stain on her clothing as a result of contact with Gore. The paper said tests found that the stain was negative for such genetic material.
- The paper said that after agreeing to allow them to interview friends and acquaintances, she reneged on the offer. The paper reported: "At first agreeing, she later seemed to backtrack and tried to limit his access to key people. During some curt conversations between Budnick [the Tribune's reporter] and her, she accused him of 'bullying' her. In other conversations, she accused him of 'screaming' at her. Audiotapes of the conversation show he never raised his voice."
- The Tribune said the masseuse claimed she wanted to remain anonymous and was not seeking money for her story. But her allegations were first published by the National Enquirer. The Tribune reported: "In its first story, published in its July 5 edition, the Enquirer wrote that a Portland lawyer retained by [the masseuse] had told the newspaper she was seeking '$1 million' for exclusive rights to her story. The Enquirer denied paying [the masseuse] anything for the first story. After the second story was published in its July 12 edition — with [the masseuse's] name, her photo (holding her black pants, inside a zip-locked bag) and more details — the Enquirer again denied paying for the first story but pointedly did not deny paying for the second story."
Read the entire story at the Portland Tribune.
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