Former Vice President Al Gore was accused of "unwanted sexual contact" by a masseuse during a 2006 visit to Portland, Ore., though the woman who made the complaint refused to be interviewed by detectives and no charges were brought.
The story was first reported Wednesday by the National Enquirer, but before the day was out, county prosecutors had confirmed that a woman had made the allegation against Mr. Gore in late 2006.
"We were told the woman was not willing to be interviewed by the Portland Police Bureau and did not want a criminal investigation to proceed," said a statement by Multnomah County District Attorney Michael Schrunk.
Mr. Schrunk said any criminal charges would require further investigation by the police and/or cooperation by the woman.
The allegations come just three weeks after Mr. Gore and his wife, Tipper, announced their separation.
Gore family spokeswoman Kalee Kreider told the Associated Press that the former vice president has no comment.
According to the National Enquirer website, the woman, identified only as a 54-year-old masseuse, saved pants as evidence of the encounter at the upscale Hotel Lucia and showed the publication "the $540 massage bill."
The supermarket tabloid, which won major credibility last year when former Democratic vice presidential candidate John Edwards acknowledged an affair he had long denied in the face of National Enquirer reporting, said it had "verified the 62-year-old former VP was in Portland at the time of the alleged incident - Oct. 24, 2006."
The woman did not report the incident to police for several weeks.
According to a Portland police report classifying the case as a third-degree sexual assault, the woman had canceled three interviews in December 2006 and January 2007 and told police she would pursue a civil case rather than a criminal one.
"This case is exceptionally cleared," Portland Detective Cheryl Waddell wrote in her report, citing the woman's refusal "to cooperate with the investigation or even report a crime."
The Oregonian newspaper reported Wednesday that while there was no evidence a civil lawsuit was filed, the woman went back to Portland police to give a statement Jan. 8, 2009. But after detectives decided not to investigate the matter because of "insufficient evidence to support the allegations," the woman asked for her statement earlier this month and said she would go to the media.
According to that 2009 statement, Mr. Gore was registered at the Hotel Lucia, Room 903, as "Mr. Stone." The woman, who added that she voted for Mr. Gore, said that "it was apparent from the beginning he had been drinking."
She said he requested work on, among other places, "his gluteus, hamstring, quadriceps and adductors," referring to the muscles on the inside of the thigh. Massage businesses are often used as prostitution fronts, but the woman insisted she ran a legitimate business and did not consent to or offer any sex acts.
The woman's report on the incident said Mr. Gore became dissatisfied during the session, "grabbed my right hand hard, 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."
The masseuse said Mr. Gore began yelling, though she calmed him down and went on with the session. But afterward, while she was packing up, Mr. Gore "wrapped me in an inescapable embrace ... and caressed my back, buttocks and breasts," though she was "telling him 'stop,' 'don't' several times." She described more unwanted fondling, a forced kiss, an attempt to get her drunk, and jokes about hotel condoms.
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