msnbc.com staff and news service reports
updated 7/1/2010 8:04:54 PM ET 2010-07-02T00:04:54

Portland police said Thursday they reopened the Al Gore sexual-assault investigation because proper procedures were not followed.

An extra review is needed because detectives looking into the matter last year failed to notify high-ranking officials of their decision to drop the case, police said.

A massage therapist to the stars has accused the former vice president of repeatedly groping and kissing her during an October 2006 late-night, alcohol-fueled attack in a posh Hotel Lucia suite. Gore denies the allegations.

Detectives investigated the claims in 2006 and 2009 but decided not to pursue the case amid a lack of cooperation and erratic behavior by the accuser. The story re-emerged last week after she told her story to the National Enquirer, and police Wednesday said they would reopen the case.

The woman identified as Molly Hagerty told the National Enquirer that she demanded a full police investigation of her complaint.

Portland Police Chief Michael Reese said Thursday that "we have determined there were procedural issues with the 2009 investigation that merit reopening the case." Officers took the accuser's statement but didn't proceed further and didn't clear that decision with higher-ups. In addition, prosecutors were not made aware of the 2009 investigation until recently.

Police would not say whether they would interrogate Gore or examine a pair of black pants the accuser wore on the night in question that she said became stained during the massage.

Gore denies charge
Gore has said through a spokeswoman that he "unequivocally and emphatically denies" the accusations and believes he will be fully exonerated once the investigation is complete.

"Further investigation into this matter will only benefit Mr. Gore," said the spokeswoman, Kalee Kreider.

A longtime Gore friend and former campaign and political consultant, Mark McNeely of Nashville, said in a telephone interview Thursday that the allegation seems like an "utterly ridiculous" attempt by the accuser to enrich herself.

Reese promised a thorough, fair and expedited 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," Reese said. "I have asked Detectives to assign appropriate resources in the interest of conducting a complete investigation in an expedited manner."

The investigation threatens to engulf Gore in a sex scandal once unthinkable for the Nobel prize winner who built up an image as a doting husband and family man who fell in love with his wife at the high school prom and lived happily ever after. The Gores' squeaky clean public image always stood in sharp contrast to the troubled marriage of the Clintons during their time in the White House.

But Gore and his wife, Tipper, announced in June that they were breaking up, saying that they had grown apart after 40 years of marriage. Associates and family friends said there was no affair involved.

Not long after the split became public, Portland police announced that they had investigated Gore on sexual assault charges over the encounter with massage therapist Molly Hagerty in October 2006.

'Call me Al,' complaint says
Police decided in 2006 not to pursue a case after her lawyer told them she would file a civil complaint. She came back to cops in early 2009 and asked that they bring the case again, providing them a statement that spelled out in precise detail how Gore allegedly assaulted her.

She showed up at Gore's 9th-floor executive suite late on the night of Oct. 24 while he was in town for a speech on global warming. "Call me Al," she quoted Gore as saying as he gave her a big hug.

She said he was finishing up a beer when she entered the room, and told investigators it wasn't long before an innocent massage turned into a series of unwanted sexual advances.

Hagerty said he dimmed the lights and asked her to massage the inside muscles of his thigh — a request she viewed as inappropriate. She refused and he allegedly put her hands on his genital area. Hagerty said Gore became angry when she pushed back.

Once the massage was complete and she began packing up her table, massage butters and other materials, Hagerty said Gore began to grope her.

Woman describes 'crazed sex poodle'
"I squirmed to try and get out of his grasp, telling him to stop, don't, several times, and I finally told him and said, 'You're being a crazed sex poodle,'" she told investigators.

She said she distracted Gore, and he stopped. Later, he tried to ply her with cognac and fondle her again, Hagerty alleges.

The Associated Press does not generally identify people who say they are victims of sex crimes, but Hagerty has made her identity public by giving an interview to the National Enquirer.

Hagerty said they engaged in several random conversations over the course of the night, including his lingering bitterness over losing the 2000 presidential election, the marital situation of Bill Clinton and Hillary Rodham Clinton and his ties to Apple board of directors.

At one point, Hagerty said Gore pinned her on the bed as he played Pink's anti-Bush screed, "Dear Mr. President," on an iPod.

She says she finally got away at around 1:30 a.m., went home, and called a friend about the ordeal. The woman said she was initially dissuaded from contacting the police by liberal friends, whom she refers to as "The Birkenstock Tribe," and of which she counts herself a member.

One friend "was basically asking me to just suck it up, otherwise the world's going to be destroyed from global warming," she said.

Masseuse wants 'justice served'
The latest edition of the National Enquirer identified the masseuse by name and said she wants a full investigation of Gore because "I want justice served."

"He turned from Mr. New Age into a pervert," Hagerty told the tabloid newspaper.

A photo with the article shows Hagerty holding a plastic bag containing a pair of pants from the night. She said she kept the pants because she wondered whether the stain might be Gore's semen, although she has also said no actual sex act took place.

She told the Enquirer, "I thought the stain could have occurred while Mr. Gore leaned on me while he was wearing an open robe." She said she paid to have the pants tested, but the findings were "inconclusive."

Hagerty, 54, lives in an apartment in southeast Portland. She didn't answer her door Thursday morning or return calls to The Associated Press.

Evidence lacking earlier
"The case was not investigated any further because detectives concluded there was insufficient evidence to support the allegations," the Portland Police Bureau said in a statement last week.

Also in a statement last week, Multnomah County District Attorney Michael Schrunk said: "If the complainant and the Portland Police Bureau wish to pursue the possibility of a criminal prosecution, additional investigation by the Bureau will be necessary and will be discussed with the Portland Police Bureau."

© 2013 msnbc.com

Video: Police reopen Gore sex-assault case

  1. Transcript of: Police reopen Gore sex-assault case

    MEREDITH VIEIRA, co-host: Police in Portland , Oregon , are reopening an investigation into a massage therapist's claims that former Vice President Al Gore made unwanted sexual advances toward her during a massage four years ago. NBC 's Peter Alexander has the latest. Peter , good morning.

    PETER ALEXANDER reporting: Meredith , good morning to you. Police will not say why they have reopened this case from an alleged incident that had said to have taken place in 2006 . In the past, they said there was not enough evidence to move forward. So important to note right now, no charges have been filed against the former vice president. And his spokesperson told NBC News late Wednesday Mr. Gore unequivocally and emphatically denies the accusation. This is the woman making the explosive allegations, 54-year-old Molly Hagerty , speaking out in the National Enquirer . Hagerty claims former Vice President Al Gore made unwanted sexual advances during a massage appointment at this upscale Portland , Oregon , hotel on October 24th , 2006 . Gore was in Portland to deliver a speech on climate change. Portland police say Hagerty canceled several appointments with detectives in 2006 . But three years later, in January 2009 , she finally came forward to police, speaking in an interview that was recorded on tape.

    Ms. MOLLY HAGERTY: Again, he approached me and he grabs me and gave me a big tongue kiss.

    ALEXANDER: In the 73-page 2009 police report , the alleged victim claims Gore pinned her down on a bed. She told authorities she feared there would be consequences if she didn't cooperate.

    Ms. HAGERTY: I finally told him, I said, `you're being a crazed sex poodle,' hoping that he'd realize how weird he was being, yet he persisted.

    ALEXANDER: Three months after the alleged incident, Hagerty 's lawyer told police his client wouldn't pursue the case, and instead wanted to file a civil suit. In this week's Enquirer , Hagerty is photographed with what she claims is evidence in the case, clothing she says she wore the night in question. A spokeswoman for the former vice president tells NBC News , "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."

    ALEXANDER: It's another unlikely headline for one of America 's most famous families, following Al and Tipper Gore 's announcement last month that they were separating after 40 years of marriage. The National Enquirer recently reported that Hagerty 's lawyer was offering to sell her story for $1 million. But late Wednesday night the tabloid told NBC News while it practices checkbook journalism, the Enquirer could not confirm or deny if any money changed hands for Molly Hagerty 's story. Also important to note that NBC News tried without success to reach Molly Hagerty . Once again, no charges have been filed against the former Vice President Al Gore , and police in Portland will not, Meredith , elaborate on exactly why they have reopened this investigation.

    VIEIRA: All right, Peter Alexander , thank you very much . Dan Abrams is NBC 's chief legal analyst. Dan , good morning to you.

    Mr. DAN ABRAMS (NBC News Chief Legal Correspondent): Good morning, Meredith .

    VIEIRA: So this alleged attack occurred in 2006 .

    Mr. ABRAMS: Mm-hmm.

    VIEIRA: She goes to police, and you heard her report there in 2009 . They close the case, they say they have insufficient evidence. So why now reopen it?

    Mr. ABRAMS: It's hard to figure out exactly what they might have now; meaning in this type of case it's corroborating evidence that becomes the key, which is what did she tell other people at the time? What else does she have that could back up her claim? And based on the very specifics of this allegation and the police report , it's hard to imagine what she has that's new, or what they they've seen that's new.

    VIEIRA: But do you think it's triggered by this National Enquirer piece that came out yesterday...

    Mr. ABRAMS: Sure.

    VIEIRA: ...when they talk about the pants that she supposedly has that might have a stain on them, and a friend that she called right afterwards, according to the Enquirer ?

    Mr. ABRAMS: Yeah, I would think that that is why they're reopening this. But again, based on this type of allegation, even if they have that sort of evidence, you would think, A, they might have had it in 2009 , right?

    VIEIRA: Right.

    Mr. ABRAMS: When they're questioning her, `What do you have to back this up?' etc. It's just hard to believe that now they'd have more evidence. Remember, the longer you get away from the time something happened, the harder a case is both to investigate and prove. Memories fade, evidence disappears, etc. So you -- generally it makes it harder as you get further away from the time.

    VIEIRA: You know, the paper -- the Enquirer will not say whether or not they paid her for her story, but they did say that in the past the lawyer offered to sell the story for a million dollars. So how much will that possibly hurt her credibility if that isn't cast -- the case -- in fact the case?

    Mr. ABRAMS: Yeah, a lot. The fact that there's discussion of the civil lawsuit instead of criminal. The fact that there...

    VIEIRA: Back in 2006 , right.

    Mr. ABRAMS: That's right . Allegations -- again, just allegations of payoffs, etc., that hurts her credibility a lot, both, I think, with the investigators and the court of public opinion.

    VIEIRA: And the fact that she didn't speak to the investigators until 2009 , is that common in a sexual assault case?

    Mr. ABRAMS: It can be, yes. People can be reluctant to come forward in sexual assault cases. But the combination of the fact that she waited until 2009 , the fact that the authorities then felt that they had insufficient evidence at that time, and now this reopening of the case does lead you to have questions as to why? What is it that they think they might have that would lead them to reopen this case? Now, again, reopening an investigation, let's not overstate that, right? That doesn't necessarily mean that they're looking at the whole case again and that they think that there could be something to happen. It literally could be something very procedural where they say, ` Look , we've seen some new things here we hadn't seen before. As a result, we're going to take another look at it.' But I think it's likely that this investigation is going to open and close without any charges again.

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