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Anitra Brown

Thoughts On The Al Gore Massage Scandal

By June 30, 2010

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I've read the reports about the licensed massage therapist who reportedly sold her story to The National Enquirer that Al Gore sexually assaulted her during a hotel room massage in Oct. of 2006, and listened to her report to the Portland, Oregon, detectives given in 2009.

I have no way of knowing what really happened in the room, but one thing I do know. According to her own account, the therapist, Molly Haggerty, didn't follow what is usually standard procedure for dealing with inappropriate behavior or sexual advances.

Massage therapists have told me that in-room massage can be a bit tricky, because you're never quite sure what the client's expectations are. You have to be alert to the wrong cues, aware of your own welfare, and on your most professional behavior. If the client does something inappropriate, the therapist explains it's a therapeutic massage and if the unwanted behavior continues, he or she will have to terminate the session. PERIOD.

That usually takes care of anyone wanting to see if there's any possibility of "extras." Swiftly defusing or addressing sexual forays during a therapeutic massage is important anywhere, but it's especially critical in the in-room hotel setting, where the therapist is literally in the client's "territory."

Hagerty describes a pattern that from the beginning signals a desire for sexual contact -- the client dimming the lights as she set up, asking for "adductor" (inner thigh) and abdominal work, moaning, grinding and telling her to go lower. When she doesn't do it he gets angry and says he's not getting what he wants.

So does she tell him, "look it's not that kind of massage, and if that's what you want, we have to terminate the session"? No. She says, IN HER OWN WORDS, "Show me what you want me to do." And then she's shocked when he grabs her right hand and angrily shoves it under the sheet. She responds by telling him it's "inappropriate massage technique" and would wake him up, and tries some acupressure points to make him drowsy.

Well, it goes on from there....alleged groping, forced kisses, more "gorey" details than I care to go into. On the one hand it doesn't sound like she's making it up (though I tend to be trusting because I'm such a bad liar.) But I'm also wondering "If this happened, why didn't you put him on notice right at the start...and get out of there?". Just by staying, you're giving mixed signals.

She says she didn't terminate the session because she was afraid is she ran out she would be tazed by his security team!! He was big and angry and she was afraid she would be raped. She was afraid her reputation as a massage therapist and her on-call business at local hotels would be destroyed.

I can see how someone could be intimidated by a famous person, but it seems like an experienced massage therapist (12 years at the time of her report) would have solid tools for handling unwanted advances. It still all seems a bit strange -- even the bill -- $540, according to National Enquirer. That's high for an on-call hotel massage.

Anyone else -- especially massage therapists -- have any thought?

June 30, 2010 at 2:38 pm
(1) Hank says:

Many ordinary people adopt a completely different set of rules for celebrities, so I have no reason to doubt her account or her explanation of why she didn’t run out screaming.

Shamefully for you, this is yet another article that wants to victimize the victim. Gore is so clearly a fraud who’s shown he’s lacking in ethics and will anything to gratify his needs.

Ms. Hagerty should be praised for coming forward. It’s too bad she didn’t do it two years ago, before that fat fraud was awarded a Nobel prize.

June 30, 2010 at 2:59 pm
(2) Nancy says:

I agree with the previous comment.

I’m a licensed therapist who does in room treatments. Clients often hint around for extras, but it is not that difficult to dissuade them without terminating the session. Just because she didn’t stop the session at the first sign of inappropriate behavior, doesn’t mean it was fair game to grab her. It might also have been a bit disorienting that a famous person would behave like that.

The $540 price for an in room treatment makes no sense at all however. I don’t really know what that has to do with anything though.

June 30, 2010 at 4:07 pm
(3) Lisa says:

Anitra, please check your facts before writing an article. The massage therapists did not receive money from the National Enquirer.

June 30, 2010 at 6:02 pm
(4) wefwon says:

This is far from an ordinary case for the massage therapist. If you leave Nobel Prize Winner and former Presidential Candidate who Distanced Himself from Bill Clinton for Moral Reasons Al Gore after ten minutes in the room, and you have some splaining to do. My guess is the Portland massage community is small enough that the negative consequences for walking out would be serious.

June 30, 2010 at 6:24 pm
(5) Noko says:

Well, I am a massage therapist and I came to about the same conclusions as Anitra. I don’t do hotel massage and never have because I didn’t want to deal with sexual advances, and that is something that seemed almost inevitable in a hotel environment. The expressions of shock and terror in the current Gore tale seemed weirdly naive, and the way that the accuser handled the situation, if it did go down as she said, was miles away from anything that was taught in my massage school. We spent a whole afternoon workshop role playing how to deal with inappropriate behavior by clients.

Only legal process will come close to verifying or discrediting the story, but if I had to judge the situation based only on the accuser’s testimony — which is rambling and full of strangely irrelevant griping about colleagues — I would call it highly suspect. I have seen many knee-jerk reactions to the effect that questioning this story is “blaming the victim.” No, it’s just questioning that she was a victim. At a minimum, if she was propositioned, she was poorly trained or did not absorb her training. I don’t mean that a sexual predator is off the hook if his victim didn’t handle herself well, but I do agree with Anitra that any therapist I know, even faced with a “big shot,” would have ended the session as soon as a sexual solicitation occurred.

June 30, 2010 at 11:21 pm
(6) Anitra says:

I don’t have a press release from the National Enquirer saying she was paid $1 million, but that’s the number that’s was cited in Vanity Fair (though they do say “reportedly” which means they heard it somewhere else.) I do know that paper doesn’t have a problem paying for juicy stories. And just because she sold her story doesn’t mean it’s not true. It all just seems very strange.

Wefwon has a good point that she could worry about getting called back, at least by this hotel, if she walked out on a bigwig. But if she explained what happened I don’t think the hotel management would be shocked…shocked!! to hear that a bigwig wanted “extras.” I think what they would value and expect is discretion under the circumstances.

I just read somewhere she was in there for three hours! I guess that would explain the $540 bill! But it makes the whole thing even weirder. How about, “well, time’s up! Gotta go!!”

June 30, 2010 at 11:41 pm
(7) dom youngross says:

Doesn’t matter if Al Gore is a stinkpot. Global warming is as before — B.S.

July 2, 2010 at 10:38 am
(8) Joe Taxpayer says:

I believe this probability of this woman’s story. We have the valued opinion of other massage therapists, some of which describe training for these situations. However, I doubt training covered these circumstances; an armed security detail that was hired, bought, and paid to protect (privacy as well as person) and the extreme celebrity of a former vice president/presidential candidate/Nobel prize winner. All of these circumstances were most likely used as an advantage by Al Gore. I believe these advantages have now become a liability for good ol’ Al.

Here’s the food for thought… Why did Al Gore pick her to be the “lucky one” that got to give him a massage? Was she the only candidate available to give a massage? Did Al gore and/or his security detail run a background investigation on this woman (or a group of available massage therapists) before they let her in the room? If so, was it modeled on a “business like” approach concerning upstanding professionalism and clean background *or* was it based on the probability of being able to persuade (with money or celebrity) the therapist into impropriety? There has to be a record of this background check somewhere! This is where an important piece of the puzzle will be found!

July 3, 2010 at 9:07 pm
(9) Vasily says:

Outcall massage in a hotel room is about sex, period. That is every man’s expectation whether it includes intercourse or just a hand-job. Any so-called masseuse who does not understand that is naive.

July 6, 2010 at 3:23 pm
(10) Anitra Brown says:

Vasily, you are quite mistaken! In-room therapeutic massage is quite common, and people who get it in spas know what the boundaries and protocols are. If you want something else, there are other professionals for that!

July 6, 2010 at 5:52 pm
(11) Raging Bee says:

If this woman was really the victim of any crime or attempted criminal action, and if she really had material evidence as she now claims, why didn’t she cooperate with the cops when they asked her to help? Why did she drop the whole matter, wait three years, then go to the tabloids before going back to the proper authorities? This woman is not at all credible; and neither are the idiots coming here to spout their mindless hatred of Gore. Thanks, guys, for reminding us of the obvious political motives behind this revival of a long-dead case.

July 6, 2010 at 8:48 pm
(12) michelle says:

I think she loses some credibility because ethically as a massage therapist you dont share details with others about the client. This doesnt mean the authorities, just the National Inquirer.

July 6, 2010 at 9:12 pm
(13) red says:

Raging Bee is the ONLY one who got this right! Think about it folks… I find her story unbelievable and it has nothing to do with Al Gore or global warming!

July 6, 2010 at 10:23 pm
(14) Iris says:

I feel this massage therapist has violated the bounderies of her profession. Not only has she given this hotel a reputation but she should never have revealed to the public who her client was and details related to her encounter or appointment. She needs to direct her concerns to the proper authorities and not the newspaper.

July 7, 2010 at 3:05 am
(15) Swaraj Bnasal says:

What actually has happened has already become a moot point.
Because, the massage therapist didnot do immediately after what she should have done, namely: a) Report to the authorities in question, b) insist on action to be initiated and the necessary compensation, whatever!, and c) file police complain, make a report, or public statements etc.
In the absence of timely action taken by her, there is surely the loss of credibility on her part, though this does not mean the offence can be denied ( she must have had proper proof though!)
The incident having already become history, the said therapist’s account cant carry weight of conviction. It is obvious, though we have reason to sympathise with her, all this case opening is surely a post-thought to gain publicity cum-financial edge. For, now whatever she says, proof or no proof, carries with it the burden of exposure! She has nothing to loose, and definitely something to gain- financially of course.

July 28, 2010 at 12:40 pm
(16) Richard Crasta says:

My view is that even if one-quarter of what happened is true, there is something to be said for both sides. Both Al Gore and Molly (the massage therapist) were victims, in their own way, of the system; it is the system that is wrong. I have written about my viewpoint in a book which despite its title is compassionate and looks at the larger issues. It is up at Amazon Kindle, https://www.amazon.com/dp/B003X978H8 and is titled: Al Gore’s Massage Confusion. A full-sized book will be out soon.

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