Published: Wednesday, June 23, 2010, 9:45 PM
dated: Thursday, June 24, 2010, 8:55 AM
A Portland massage therapist gave local police a detailed statement last year alleging that former Vice President Al Gore groped her, kissed her and made unwanted sexual advances during a late-night massage session in October 2006 in a suite at the upscale Hotel Lucia.
The woman told investigators that she informed two friends and kept the clothes she wore that night, including her black pants with stains on them. But Portland police didn’t contact any of the woman’s friends, obtain the potential evidence or interview anyone at the hotel, records show.
“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 prepared statement Wednesday, responding to inquiries from all over the world after the National Enquirer broke the story on its website.
In her detailed Jan. 8, 2009, statement to a Portland sexual assault investigator, the woman said she was called to the hotel about 10:30 p.m. Oct. 24, 2006, to provide a massage for Gore, who was registered under the name “Mr. Stone.” Once inside his ninth-floor suite, she said he pushed her hand to his groin, fondled her buttocks and breasts, tongue-kissed her and threw her down on the bed as she tried to thwart his advances.
She also said Gore had finished a beer and opened a bottle of Grand Marnier while she was in the room.
While the Police Bureau considers it a closed case, it said it would reopen it if new evidence is received.
Portland police spokeswoman Detective Mary Wheat said police didn’t go to the hotel or talk to the woman’s friends because it wouldn’t help prove or disprove the woman’s allegations.
“We’re not disputing Al Gore was in the hotel room with this woman,” Wheat said. “The two people in that room were Mr. Gore and this woman. If a bellhop came in and saw something, that would be different.”
The Multnomah County district attorney’s office was aware that the woman’s attorney filed a complaint with police about two months after the encounter, but the woman didn’t show up for three scheduled interviews with police investigators. At that time, police were told the woman didn’t want to proceed with a criminal case and would pursue a civil case instead.
Multnomah County District Attorney Michael Schrunk said Wednesday that his office was not informed that Portland police had taken another statement from the massage therapist in 2009 and only received those reports once the National Enquirer story broke.
“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,” Schrunk said in a prepared release.
Gore family spokeswoman Kalee Kreider said the former vice president has no comment. Gore and his wife, Tipper, announced June 1 they were separating.
The 54-year-old massage therapist, who lives in Southeast Portland, refused to talk to a reporter from The Oregonian when approached Wednesday afternoon. She emerged from her home about 4:30 p.m. wearing a large floppy hat and sunglasses and was accompanied by a young man, who was carrying a bag. The two drove away in a car with Washington license plates.
According to a lengthy transcript of the woman’s Jan. 8, 2009, statement to a Portland detective, the therapist said she arrived in the suite about 11 p.m. Earlier that evening, Gore addressed a near-capacity crowd in the Rose Garden’s Theater of the Clouds, telling the audience that man-made global climate change is the most important moral challenge of our time. She said Gore changed into a bathrobe, spoke of his grueling travel schedule and need to relax and told her to call him “Al.”
While giving Gore an abdominal massage, she said he demanded that she go lower and soon grabbed her right hand and shoved it under the sheet.
“I felt like I was dancing on the edge of a razor,” she told Detective Molly Daul.
She tried to use an acupressure technique to relax Gore and thought she may have nearly put him to sleep. She went into the bathroom to wash up and came out to pack up.
That’s when, she says, Gore wrapped her in an “inescapable embrace” and fondled her back, buttocks and breasts as she was trying to break down her massage table.
She called him a “crazed sex poodle” and tried to distract him, pointing out a box of Moonstruck chocolates on a nearby table. He went for the chocolates and then offered her some, cornering her, fondling her and shoving his tongue in her mouth to french kiss as he pressed against her.
She said he tried to pull her camisole strap down.
She said she told him to stop it. “I was distressed, shocked and terrified.”
She said she was intimidated by his physical size, calling him “rotund,” described his “violent temper, dictatorial, commanding attitude” — what she termed a contrast from his “Mr. Smiley global-warming concern persona.”
Later, she said, he tried to lure her into the bedroom to hear pop star Pink’s “Dear Mr. President” on his iPod dock. She said Gore sat on one end of the bed and motioned for her to join him.
Suddenly, she said, he “flipped me on my back, threw his whole body face down over a top me, pinning me down.”
She said she loudly protested, “Get off me, you big lummox!”
The therapist said she injured her left leg and knee and sought medical care for several months.
The therapist later told detectives she did not call the police because she was afraid she wouldn’t be believed. “I deeply feared being made into a public spectacle and my work reputation being destroyed,” she said.
As it was, she said, even friends of hers who had voted for Gore didn’t necessarily support her. She did call the Portland Women’s Crisis Line, which encouraged her to call police.
She told detectives last year that she was not out for money but only wants “justice.”
“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.”
Randall Vogt, a Pearl District attorney who specializes in sexual misconduct cases, said he represented the massage therapist in 2006. “That file was closed and put to bed and forgotten,” Vogt said. “She and I parted on friendly terms as best I can recall.” He was not aware that his former client reactivated her claims against Gore last year.
Wheat said police didn’t investigate the woman’s 2009 statement further because “they didn’t feel there was any additional evidence that would change what they saw in 2006.” That’s also why the police didn’t consult with the district attorney’s office about the 2009 statement, she said. Wheat added that the woman received a lot of attention from police and a victim’s advocate, who made sure she had counseling.
In 2007 or 2008, then-Portland Tribune reporter Nick Budnick made a public records request and obtained the Portland police report, but the newspaper did not run a story.
Mark Garber, the Tribune’s editor-in-chief, said the woman was not willing to talk on the record or press charges and the paper considered the time lapse between the incident and when the paper received the police report. “In the end, we decided not to proceed with a story that we could not document,” Garber said.
The statute of limitations for third-degree sex abuse, which is the classification Portland police gave to the complaint in 2006 and 2007, is four years after the commission of the crime. However, if the accused is not an inhabitant or usually a resident in the state, then the statute of limitations is extended for a maximum of three years. So, in this case, the statute of limitations would not run out until 2013. No civil suit had been filed.
Helen Jung, Kimberly Wilson and Lynne Terry contributed to this report.