- The Washington Times - Monday, November 1, 2010

Former Rep. Gary A. Condit, the California Democrat whose political career was ruined in the wake of the disappearance of D.C. intern Chandra Levy, testified Monday that investigators in the case tried to railroad him.

But Mr. Condit, who said he is retired, wouldn’t explain the exact nature of his relationship with Levy, whose remains were found in Rock Creek Park about a year after her 2001 disappearance.

“We’re all entitled to some level of privacy,” Mr. Condit testified during the second week of testimony in the trial of Ingmar Guandique, the accused killer in the Levy case. “It seems like in this country we’ve lost a sense of decency. I didn’t commit any crime; I don’t think I’ve done anything wrong.”

Guandique, an illegal Salvadoran immigrant and a reputed member of the violent street gang Mara Salvatrucha, or MS-13, is charged with attacking and killing Levy as she jogged through Rock Creek Park.

Prosecutors are building a circumstantial case against Guandique through the accounts of women Guandique attacked in Rock Creek Park about the time of Levy’s disappearance and the testimony of jailhouse informants who say Guandique confessed to the killing.

Former Rep. Gary A. Condit testified in D.C. Superior Court on Monday in the trial of Ingmar Guandique, the man charged with the murder of Chandra Levy. She was an intern with the federal Bureau of Prisons in 2001 before being attacked and killed in Rock Creek Park. (Associated Press)
Former Rep. Gary A. Condit testified in D.C. Superior Court on Monday ... more >

Guandique’s attorneys, who note that the case lacks physical evidence and eyewitnesses, say their client is a convenient “scapegoat” for prosecutors seeking to salvage a bungled investigation. Much of that bungling is the result of the fixation of investigators with Mr. Condit, who was married and apparently carrying on an affair with the 24-year-old intern.

Prosecutors have acknowledged that investigators became so obsessed with building a case against a sitting congressman that they allowed Guandique to essentially hide in plain sight.

In the summer of 2001, the case became a media sensation in large part because of law enforcement leaks and insinuations that Mr. Condit was responsible for Levy’s disappearance and, possibly, her death. No evidence ever emerged linking Mr. Condit to the crime, and prosecutors now say he was not involved.

Police have said Mr. Condit did not fully cooperate with investigators, a charge he vehemently denied Monday. Mr. Condit said he refused to answer only one question investigators posed: Did he have a sexual relationship with Levy?

“If you can tell me why that’s relevant, I can answer the question,” Mr. Condit recalled telling investigators.

Mr. Condit said he worried that the investigators were “incompetent” and contacted police at the urging of Levy’s father because he wanted to make sure they were taking the case seriously.

Prosecutor Amanda Haines never asked Mr. Condit whether he and Levy had an affair, but did ask why he never acknowledged an affair. His voice broke slightly, and he said it was “purely based on principle.”

On cross-examination, public defender Maria Hawilo put the question to Mr. Condit directly: “Did you ever have an intimate relationship with Levy?”

“I have already stated I’m not going to respond to those questions,” Mr. Condit said.

Ms. Hawilo persisted until Superior Court Judge Gerald Fisher told her to move on.

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