The notorious stain on the pants saved by an Oregon masseuse from the night she claims she was sexually assaulted by Al Gore tested negative for semen, the woman told the Portland Tribune, the weekly newspaper that first investigated her allegations.
The revelation about the stained pants (a version of which previously appeared in the National Enquirer, which first reported the woman’s allegations) are among several new details that emerge from an article in the latest issue of the Tribune. The article, written by the paper’s former managing editor, seeks to explain why and how the paper reached its decision not to publish the claims of Molly Hagerty (who has since publicly identified herself).The new details nether confirm nor refute the Hagerty’s allegations, but they do add to the sketchy picture that has emerged of the alleged incident and of Hagerty, whose claims shattered the public persona of the former vice president. What they add to the picture, however, is mixed. The paper’s reporters and editors came to have serious concerns about the credibility of the accuser; at the same time many elements of her story checked out.
Most of the newly published details were gleaned by the paper from the period between March 2008, when Hagerty contacted the paper’s reporter and agreed to tell her story, and Nov. 21, 2008, the last time the reporter spoke with her. By March 2008, the reporter had been working on the story off and on since early 2007, thought he had identified Hagerty as the victim, and had approached her but she had declined to cooperate.
Among the nuggets from the newest story:
When initially approached by the reporter, who was canvassing local massage therapists to determine who had been in the room with Gore that night, Hagerty denied that she was the masseuse in question.
Hagerty told the Tribune that she failed a lie detector test taken at the behest of an attorney she wanted to represent her in the Gore matter. The paper also reports that Hagerty told them that the person who administered the polygraph had “screamed and screamed and screamed at me.” It’s unclear why.
The Tribune early in its investigation, before it knew the victim’s identity, talked to two acquaintances of the the accuser “who strongly questioned her credibility.” Those acquaintances remain unnamed and have never gone on the record. The paper later talked to friends of Hagerty who found her to be “absolutely credible.”
The Tribune obtained Hagerty’s phone records which confirmed her claims that she called a friend in Texas the night of the incident and that she called a sexual assault hotline within three days of the incident. She provided the paper with a document from the hotline which summarized the call: “She does not want to involve the police. She says that they won’t do anything because of who he is.”
The relationship between Hagerty and the Tribune, including the reporter, deteriorated over time as they continued to investigate her allegations. Disputes arose over how much control she would have over whatever story was published and over commitments she claimed the paper had made to her. In the beginning, the reporter found Hagerty to be “sincere, compelling and smart,” according to the paper. By the end, the reporter and editors had doubts about her that “made us question her perceptions and her memory.” At times she accused the reporter of “bullying” her and “screaming” at her, characterizations that the Tribune considered exaggerated and compounded their concerns about her credibility.
Following the initial Enquirer story the syndicated TV show Inside Edition found an old case file in the Portland courthouse that the paper’s own electronic searches had not turned up. In 1998 Hagerty had sought a restraining order against a former boyfriend whom she claimed had assaulted her two years before and was then showing up at at her place of work. The restraining order was denied.
Portland police have reopened their investigation which is apparently ongoing.