Federal Judge Tosses Gary Condit Slander Suit Against Author

A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit by former Congressman Gary Condit claiming author Dominick Dunne slandered him over the death of a young female intern.

Condit claimed that Dunne falsely accused him on the "Larry King Live" show of involvement in the 2001 disappearance of government intern Chandra Levy, with whom Condit acknowledged having an affair.

U.S. District Judge Peter K. Leisure of New York ruled Tuesday that Dunne's comments in November 2005 did not rise to the level of slander. A similar lawsuit by Condit against Dunne was settled in March 2005; the terms remain confidential.

"Our position has always been this was an abusive and frivolous lawsuit," said Dunne's attorney, Paul LiCalsi. "The decision confirms that there was nothing defamatory about Mr. Dunne's expressing his opinion that Condit knows more than he's ever told about what happened to Chandra Levy."

Attorneys for Condit did not immediately return calls for comment.

Condit, a former Democratic congressman from California's Central Valley, has denied any involvement in or knowledge of Levy's May 2001 disappearance at age 24, or her death. He acknowledged to police during the investigation that they had an intimate relationship, though in a sworn deposition in a later defamation case he denied romantic involvement and insisted "we were friends."

The situation cost Condit his House seat in 2002.

Levy's body was found in a park in Washington in May 2002, but the case has never been solved.

During a wide-ranging conversation with Dunne on CNN's "Larry King Live" on Nov. 16, 2005, guest host Bob Costas raised Condit's ties to the Levy case. "I think he knows more about what did happen than he has ever said," Dunne said.

That was one of several statements Condit sued over.

Leisure concluded in a 21-page ruling that Dunne's expression of his opinion, without implying the existence of undisclosed facts, did not constitute slander.

Condit has also pursued defamation lawsuits against news outlets over the case, but without getting a favorable judgment.

His first attorney on the most recent suit against Dunne resigned from the case last year, saying the defamation claim was not warranted. Condit found a new lawyer and continued with the lawsuit.

After leaving Congress, Condit and his family moved to Arizona and ran two Baskin-Robbins ice cream stores. According to California's Modesto Bee newspaper, they have been sued by the company over alleged management failures, and after a civil trial in October a ruling is pending.