Gore accused of sexual assault?

Yes, I know that few political figures on the Left are more disliked than Al Gore, for a number of reasons, not least of which is the ingracious and destructive campaign Gore launched in Florida that has colored American politics ever since.  He also routinely blasted the Bush administration on the war while demanding action on climate change, and at the same time fattened his own pocketbook and lived a carbon-emission-rich lifestyle.  He’s not a terribly likable figure, but at the same time, this seems very suspicious to me:

Former Vice President Al Gore was accused of “unwanted sexual contact” by a massage therapist in 2006, law enforcement officials said Wednesday, noting that no charges were filed.

In a written statement, the Portland police said “the case was not investigated any further because detectives concluded there was insufficient evidence to support the allegations.”

The statement followed a report in the National Enquirer, which broke the story, and then in the Portland Oregonian, which had earlier decided not to publish it because it could not document it.

Essentially, the story is that Gore wanted a “happy ending” with his massage in 2006, and his legitimate masseuse refused to give it.  She alleges that Gore grabbed her hand and attempted to get his game on, and that he became verbally abusive when she refused.  There were no witnesses to this incident, which at best makes for a “he said, she said” case, even at that time.

This story began floating to the surface earlier this week, and I’ve been getting e-mail about it since yesterday.  The story looks very suspicious, for a couple of reasons.  According to the police, the woman reported the incident at the time but refused to press charges, apparently unwilling to be named in the press and get attacked for her accusation.  Now, several years later, she returned because she wanted to take the case to the media.  That hardly instills confidence in the credibility of the accuser.

Perhaps the story is true, and Gore did assault the masseuse.  However, I’d put a lot more stock in the accusation had she gone to a legitimate news organization rather than the National Enquirer (like the Oregonian, which asked her to come forward earlier), revealed her name, and publicly stood by the accusation, instead of hiding for four years only to sell the story to a tabloid.  As much as I dislike Al Gore politically, this looks like a smear job.

Update: The Smoking Gun has a transcript of her police interview, noting that it sounds a lot like “Vice Presidential fan fiction”:

In December 2006, a lawyer for the woman told police about the purported encounter, but after the masseuse cancelled three interview appointments, the case was closed due to her refusal to “cooperate with the investigation or even report a crime.” It is unclear why, two years later, she approached Portland police and sought to memorialize her allegations against Gore, who she portrayed as a tipsy, handsy predator who forced her to drink Grand Marnier, pinned her to a bed, and forcibly French kissed her. The woman’s statement–which could be mistaken for R-rated Vice Presidential fan fiction–describes Gore as a man with a “violent temper as well as extremely dictatorial commanding attitude besides his Mr. Smiley Global Warming concern persona.” After fleeing Gore’s suite, the woman returned home to discover, a la Lewinsky, “stains on the front of my black slacks.” Suspecting that the stains were Gore bodily fluids, the woman made sure not to clean them. “I carefully hung them up and decided to be sure not to launder them until I knew more what to do with what had happened. Just my intuition.”

TSG also notes the mercenary aspect of their subject:

While the masseuse hired a civil attorney, “I was not interested in making any money from this case,” she told cops. “I did not want to be labeled a gold digger like the women in this situation are often labeled.” The woman recently eased off this principled stand when she offered to sell her story to the National Enquirer for $1 million.

Yes, she didn’t want to cooperate with police in a criminal complaint, but had less problem pursuing a lawsuit and big payoff from the Enquirer.   That certainly builds credibility.

Update: One commenter accuses me of “attacking the victim” in this post.  Well, in this country, we are innocent until proven guilty, and that’s the assumption one has to make when the alleged victim refuses to press charges.  TSG notes that the Portland PD tried three times to get her to cooperate, and unlike earlier versions of the story reported, she alleged to them that she did have potential physical evidence of the crime.  If her statement is true, then a serious crime was committed — but by not pressing charges and giving Gore a chance to respond, she eliminated all possibility of determining the validity of the charge.

That’s not “attacking the victim.”  It’s American Jurisprudence 101.