On the Allegations Against Al Gore

[Trigger warning for sexual assault.]

As you may have read elsewhere, or seen on the cover of the Enquirer, in 2006, a Portland massage therapist, who is a 54-year-old white woman, alleged that Al Gore sexually assaulted her during a massage in his hotel room. Gore is accused of various unwanted touching and sexual coercion/assault, including putting her hand near his genitals, hugging her, kissing her, groping her breast, and pushing her onto the bed.

I can't even begin to express how much I don't want to write about this, but here we go.

I've spent the whole morning reading about the case, trying to get my head around the details, and the basic timeline is this: In 2006, after the alleged incident, the woman says she called a rape crisis hotline, where she was referred to the Portland Police. She then contacted a lawyer, who first contacted the Secret Service (Gore was not under Secret Service protection in 2006), the FBI, and the Oregon State Police, all of whom also referred them back to the Portland Police, who had jurisdiction.

Her lawyer then contacted the Portland Police on her behalf. After the woman declined to be interviewed, and refused to officially report a crime, canceling three appointments with detectives, her attorney asked that the investigation be closed, and told police they would be pursuing a civil case instead.

Then, in 2007, they tried to take the story to various media, who showed no interest in the story at that time. In January 2009, the woman finally decided to meet with Portland detectives, two of whom were from their Sexual Assault unit, as well as a survivors' advocate who works with the unit. She gave a prepared statement (which is available in full below, with her name redacted), but ultimately no charges were filed, according to police, because of a lack of evidence.

Earlier this month, the woman requested copies of her statements and reports on her claims from police. Portland police spokeswoman Detective Mary Wheat said the woman informed police she was taking her case to the media. The National Enquirer reported the allegations yesterday, after the woman reportedly offered her story to them for $1 million.

(Also see: AP and WaPo.)

My impression, after reading the 70+ page investigative report, which includes the transcript of the police interview, is that the detectives' response was very good. The lead detective, Det. Molly Daul, thanks the woman for her statement and tells her that it was "great" and "it was all-inclusive and that's just the things we need to hear." Det. Daul asks lots of very detailed questions and treats the complainant with respect.

There is no victim-blaming, and the only slut-shaming in the interview is when the woman making the allegations talks about colleagues who wear what she deems inappropriately sexy clothing while working, colleagues she believes to be prostitutes and would like to see arrested.

The only assessment I can make based on the available information is whether the complainant and her allegations are treated seriously, and they certainly appear to be. The police response seems to be pretty much the exact fucking opposite to that in the most recent Ben Roethlisberger case, and just about every other celebrity/politico sexual assault allegation about which we've written.

Investigative Report:

Portland Police Bureau 2009 investigative report on Al Gore incident

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