Friend defends Portland masseuse at center of Al Gore scandal

Friend defends Portland masseuse at center of Al Gore scandal »Play Video

PORTLAND, Ore. - Terrified, private and honest - that's how a close friend of the massage therapist at the center of the Al Gore scandal describes how her friend is feeling right now.

The allegations against the former Vice President exploded this week when a supermarket tabloid, the National Enquirer, reported that the former Vice President had attacked a Portland masseuse at a local upscale hotel back in 2006.

"It is apparently something that has bothered her for quite a while," Barry Levine, Executive Editor of the National Enquirer, said when asked about the story. "Her life has been, from what we know, completely affected by this particular night and we would like to see the authorities get to the bottom of it."

The Enquirer is known for stretching the truth, but both the Portland Police Bureau and the Multnomah County District Attorney's Office confirmed the allegation. Both released statements concerning the story and the Portland Police Bureau even released the actual police report, all of which are available online in our previous story 'Tabloid claims Al Gore assaulted Portland masseuse.'

Donna Burleigh said she has been friends with the woman at the center of it all for about six years. The two regularly keep in touch by email but Burleigh said her friend, who has not been identified, is now in hiding.

Burleigh said her friend was terrified and called her within a week after the alleged incident happened. "She told me she was sexually assaulted or abused on the job."

The woman never said who the alleged attacker was but Burleigh had her suspicions. "She said her predator was coming - and guess who was in the newspaper or in the news - and I said 'I know who it is' but she didn't want nobody knowing."

The woman's attorney reported the alleged incident to Portland police in 2006 but Burleigh said her extremely private friend didn't want to talk about it anymore, to anyone.

"Because that would have brought the news crew and more media on her," Burleigh said when asked why her friend did not do police interviews at that time.

But in January of 2009, the woman did finally sit down with detectives and give a lengthy interview. And now Burleigh said she is speaking up for a friend who she feels was a victim.

"My goal is to help her," she said. "I want somebody to stand up for her. She has no one."