by Timothy Chilman
Al Gore seems like a nice guy. He ought to have been president in 2000, he won the Nobel Peace Prize, he was a major stoner back in the 70s,” and he struggles valiantly against climate change. He is, however, also said to be a “crazed sex poodle.”
Molly Hagerty alleges that Gore made sexual advances upon her on October 24, 2006, in the upmarket Hotel Lucia, when Gore visited Portland to deliver a speech on climate change. Hagerty canceled appointments with detectives on December 21 and 26 of that year. Her attorney, sexual misconduct specialist Randall Vogt, canceled another that was scheduled for January 4, 2007, saying that the matter would be dealt with civilly and that his client did not desire publicity. Hagerty’s refusal to be interviewed by detectives dictated that an investigation could not proceed. The police report said, “This case is exceptionally cleared as refuses to co-operate with the investigation or even report a crime.”
On January 8, 2009, Hagerty contacted police again and gave a lengthy, written statement to Detective Molly Daul, who questioned her for more than two hours. Gore had addressed a crowd of close to full capacity at the Rose Garden’s Theater of the Clouds, telling them that human-induced climate change was the greatest moral challenge of our time. Hagerty had been surprised to be told by the hotel’s front desk that she had an appointment with him. He had booked in as “Mr. Stone.” The appointment was for 10:30p.m., but she was told Gore would not be free until 11p.m. When the time came, she knocked on the door of his room, and found herself facing Al Gore. He gave her an embrace which “went on a bit long.” She noted that he had clearly been drinking. She asked what she should call him, and received the reply: “Call me Al.” Hagerty says that Gore strongly recommended that she drink cognac, although she had said that she didn’t drink alcohol.
The massage was divided into sessions of 90 and 75 minutes. Gore, wearing nowt but a sheet, requested abdominal work. He began to moan and “demanded” that his masseuse go lower. “I was shocked, and I did not massage beyond what is considered a safe, nonsexual area of the abdomen… He further insisted and acted angry, becoming verbally sharp and loud… <he> grabbed my hand, shoved it down under the sheet to his pubic hair area, my fingers brushing against his penis and firmly planted my hand on his pubic crest region and said to me ‘There!’ in a very sharp, loud, angry-sounding tone… I went into much deeper shock as I realized it appeared he was demanding sexual favors or sexual behaviors.”
Gore, Hegarty said, asked “for release of his second chakra there” – a hand job. In such circumstances, Hagerty did not wish to merely leave. Her client was “Teflon-coated in terms of his credibility and celebrity status.” She was concerned that if she ran away screaming, she might be shot or Tasered by Gore’s security staff. She did not think anyone would believe she was the injured party, but she did think a word from Gore could ruin her reputation.
So she used acupressure in an attempt to relax Gore to the point of sleeping. Afterward, she went to the bathroom to wash and emerged to pack.
Hagerty said that Gore, now wearing a robe, “pleaded, groped me, grabbed me, engulfed me in embrace, tongue kissed me, massaged me, grabbed my breasts.” She says he engulfed her in an “inescapable embrace.” She called him a “crazed sex poodle” and attempted to distract him with a box of Moonstruck chocolates. He took some, and offered them to her. Hagerty says he cornered her, got his hands on the goods once again, inserted his tongue to her mouth and tried to pull her camisole down.
Hagerty said, “I was distressed, shocked and terrified.” She was, she said, intimidated by the “rotund” figure Gore cut and his “violent temper, dictatorial, commanding attitude.” She said it was in marked contrast to his “Mr. Smiley global warming concern persona.” Hagerty claims Gore attempted to lure her to the bed to listen to the song Dear Mr. President by Pink, which he played on his iPod and to which he sang along. There was further hand-holding, kissing, and crotch-grabbing. She claims she injured her left leg and knee, which subsequently required months of medical care.
Hagerty claims that Gore threw her onto the bed and lay atop her, trapping her. She says she shouted: “Get off me, you big lummox!” before breaking free and exiting under the cover of “humor and a sense of verbal gentle playfulness.”
“I did not immediately call the police as I feared being made into a public spectacle and my reputation being destroyed… I was not sure what to tell them and was concerned my story would not be believed since there was no DNA evidence from a completed act of rape. I did not even know what to call what had happened to me.”
After the encounter, she took a very long shower and brushed her teeth “to get out the GrandMarnier and Al Gore’s tongue and germs out of my mouth.”
Days after the alleged episode, Hagerty communicated telephonically with a close friend, Donna Burleigh. She said that in the course of her work, she had been sexually assaulted by “someone in the higher ups” whom she feared. She fretted that “things are going to come to a head” and that there would be “all kinds of media coverage.” She did not name the guilty party.
Hagerty said separately that to begin with, liberal friends she labeled “the Birkenstock Tribe” dissuaded her from contacting police. One in particular “was basically asking me to just suck it up, otherwise the world’s going to be destroyed by global warming.” She also feared she would not be believed. She finally came forward six weeks after the event to protect other women who might have suffered similar trauma. She said, “He should not get a free pass merely because of his position. People in power are not to be given a license to behave in ways that the rest of us are not.” She added, “This is like people going nuts on the MAX and you want to get off before they beat you up,”
At first, police said that procedural irregularities warranted reopening of the case, although extensive public criticism of the department’s handling of the affair may also have forced the move. A 73-page Confidential Special Report was drawn up, but it was later decided that there was not enough evidence to substantiate the allegations. On June 3, 2010, Hagerty asked for a copy of her statement, which she intended to present to the media.
She said that the incident worsened her pre-existing health problems. Her sleep was disrupted, her work was “more stressful and frightening since the incident,” and she contacted the Portland Women’s Crisis Line, who recommended she speak to police. Burleigh said, “When she got violated, she has not been the same since… She was talking about how she wanted to go to the hospital because she was having panic attacks, then it started getting worse.” She “freaked out” when Gore returned to Portland years later. As Burleigh put it: “She said her predator was back and coming to town.”
Burleigh was aware that her friend had solicited a lawyer in order to pursue a civil case, but was rather surprised to see a headline of “AL GORE SEX ATTACK!!!” on the front page of the National Enquirer on June 22, 2010. The week after, the headline was “‘AL GORE IS A PERVERT & SEXUAL PREDATOR.'” Burleigh said, “She’s not out for freakin’ money. This lady, all she wants is this man accountable for his actions.”
Hagerty said, “I did not want to be labeled a gold digger like the women in this situation are often labeled.” Although she was not out for freakin’ money, the Washington Post reported that she received a million dollars from the Enquirer. That esteemed publication routinely pays sources for information, but editor-in-chief Tony Frost said that no payment was made, although a million dollars had been requested. Hagerty refused to reveal whether she had obtained freakin’ money. The Enquirer claimed to have the $540 bill for massage, which included a 20 percent gratuity. The price seems rather high for an appointment with no sexual high jinx. Frost said the Enquirer had got wind of the story from a tip. He added that the Enquirer had performed “a great deal of work” to ascertain the veracity of the story, although Portland police confirmed that this did not include actually speaking to them.
Burleigh runs S&D Exotic Bird Rescure from her home, and met Hagerty when she brought a Macaw called Toto, which she wanted to find a good home. The bird had been too loud for her apartment. She joined the organization’s board of directors, and helps to place birds through Craigslist. Burleigh said that Hagerty is “a big-hearted person” who kept birds, including African Gray and Quaker parrots.
Pepe Moscoso, a photographer and artist who resides in the same apartment complex in Southeast Portland, said that Hagerty was “very spiritual,” and that they would discuss astrology. She always talked to him and his wife when they walked outside with their daughters.
Neighbor Rusty Pranger said Hagerty was sufficiently friendly that she would stop to say “hi” on the sidewalk. She attempted to speak basic Russian to some immigrant neighbors.
Having allowed three years to elapse since Gore’s supposed indiscretion, Hagerty was considered to face a “tremendous” challenge by investigators and prosecutors. In the words of Sergeant Adam Hofstein, supervisor of the special victims unit of Broward County Sheriff’s Department, “Your forensic evidence is waning, the time weighs on people’s recollections and their credibility.” But he said that all steps would still be taken: “You are still within the statute of limitations. You still have a felony.” The allegations were classed as third-degree sexual abuse, for which the statute of limitations is four years, plus another three if the accused does not reside in the state.
Harry O’Reilly headed a special victims unit in New York prior to his retirement. He now teaches sex crime investigative methods to law enforcement. He says that police might consider message therapy to be a “dubious profession,” that the elapsed time is problematic, and that the accusations do not amount to rape.
Hagerty had been a licensed massage therapist for 12 years. She has a professional diploma from the Oregon School of Massage, has completed training at the Northwest Acupressure Institute, studied preliminary Chinese medicine studies at the Oregon College of Oriental Medicine, and has a bachelor of science degree in liberal studies from Portland State University.
Hagerty did not follow the usual standard procedure for massage therapists. Massage therapists will tell you that in-room massage can be delicate, as they can never be sure what are the client’s expectations and the location is the client’s territory. If the client behaves inappropriately, the therapist should explain that the massage is therapeutic, and if undesirable behavior persists, the session is terminated. Usually, this will put paid to unwanted advances. Massage schools often spend an afternoon teaching how to respond to such a situation.
Hagerty spoke of a client whose desire for sexual contact was apparent from the beginning: he dimmed the lights, asked for “adductor” (inner thigh) work, moaned, and told her to go lower. Instead of ending the appointment, she said, “Show me what you want to do.” A massage therapist can obviously inform authorities of a client’s behavior, but informing the Enquirer is deeply unethical.
Hagerty’s own behavior after her terrifying ordeal is highly suspect. Days later, she sent the hotel a letter saying: ‘I provide at length additional late-hours’ professional services for your VIP guest per his personal in-person request, with, of course, the utmost of discretion, and did so with only a few hours’ notice… I am more than confident that the guest was completely happy with the professional services I delivered, and will be more than fine with cleaning up the balance due.’
The red-headed Hagerty acknowledges that after the massage, she called Gore and told him to “‘dream of red-haired women.” Hagerty did not act as if she were terrified of Gore.
Gore’s attorneys wrote to the Portland Tribune in 2007 to state that Hagerty’s tale was “completely false.” A friend of Gore said that he confirmed a massage had occurred on the night in question, and probably by Hagerty. Gore announced that he was splitting from his wife, Tipper, on June 1, shortly before the scandal erupted, although according to a spokeswoman, the scandal was not the reason for the split, and Tipper believed him to be innocent. The spokeswoman said that Tipper knew that massage had been a key element of Gore’s fitness regimen for “many, many, many years.”
The Portland Tribune reported that Hagerty had a history of falsely accusing people of maltreating her. She failed a polygraph test. The damage to her reputation she feared seems to have been done: a minivan in the parking lot of her apartment complex which neighbors said belonged to her was egged and smeared with white goo. Nor is it the first time she has had man trouble: in 1998, she was refused a restraining order against a former boyfriend.
No civil suit has been forthcoming. It would seem that this particular conspiracy theory does not hold water, and just as well. As one person to comment put it, a sex scandal involving Al Gore is like one involving Lieutenant Commander Data from Star Trek: the Next Generation: technically possible, but unbelievable in the absence of videotape and DNA evidence.
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