D.C. Police Chief Charles H. Ramsey called a private lie-detector test given to Rep. Gary A. Condit worthless, saying the police department has finished examining the test and has turned it over to the FBI.
The District’s top police official said yesterday that the test “doesn’t mean anything” and expressed doubts on whether police will be able to determine the validity of the exam.
Because police researchers have little more than a graph that can’t be associated with any specific question, there is no way of knowing if the question administered was “Are your shoes black?” or “Did you kill Chandra Levy?” he said.
Mr. Condit’s attorney, Abbe Lowell, revealed last week that the California Democrat paid for and took a lie-detector test that he passed. But neither police nor the FBI were allowed to participate. Police officials have said they want the congressman to undergo a polygraph administered by the FBI, but they have no legal leverage to force him to submit to one.
“If they chose to do it this way, well then, they chose to do it this way,” said department spokesman Sgt. Joe Gentile. “The FBI is going over it now. But the test wasn’t administered by law enforcement. It is worthless.”
Billy Martin, the attorney for the Levy family, challenged Mr. Condit weeks ago to take the polygraph.
Mr. Condit’s private test won’t satisfy him or Miss Levy’s parents, said their spokesman, Michael Frisby.
“Mr. Martin and the family are looking for him to come forward and satisfy what the police need to do, so that they can move on with their investigation,” Mr. Frisby said. “Unfortunately, him going off and taking a private lie-detector test doesn’t come close to satisfying that.”
Frank Horvath, criminal justice professor at Michigan State University and past president of the American Polygraph Association, said polygraph tests are used by lawyers for their advantage. He said he assumed this would happen in the case.
“Lawyers usually go through an independent examiner before they allow police to test their clients,” Mr. Horvath said. “If they pass it, everyone in the world knows about the outcome. If they don’t, no one knows an exam was given. They say they are unreliable and try to not let it be introduced into evidence. It is unfortunate, but it happens.”
Even if a client passes a polygraph test, Mr. Horvath added, investigators must consider the questions asked, who administers the test, under what conditions and the procedure used.
Most professionals believe the tests have an accuracy rate of between 70 percent to 90 percent, Mr. Horvath said.
Meanwhile, about 50 police officers continued yesterday to search Rock Creek Park and three smaller parks Fort Davis, Fort Chaplin and Fort Mahan for clues to the disappearance of the former intern. On Tuesday, police found a box knife inside a pair of running shoes in Rock Creek Park. Police officials are not linking the find with Miss Levy’s disappearance.
D.C. police officers and academy recruits have been searching abandoned buildings and wooded areas since last week.
Police officials say Mr. Condit is not a suspect in Miss Levy’s disappearance, and they classify the investigation as a “critical missing-persons case,” a noncriminal matter.
Mr. Condit, 53, is a California Democrat whose district includes Miss Levy’s hometown of Modesto. He has admitted in his third interview with police that he had a romantic relationship with Miss Levy, law-enforcement sources have told The Times. The admission came after Miss Levy’s aunt released a statement outlining details of theirrelationship, which the niece had confided to her.
Mr. Condit for several weeks denied the affair through aides and written statements.
Miss Levy, 24, was an intern at the federal Bureau of Prisons. She was last seen April 30 when she canceled her membership at a gym near her apartment, at 1260 21st St. NW. The next day, Miss Levy spent several hours looking at Web sites on her laptop.
The congressman also faces legal trouble from federal authorities. The U.S. Attorney’s Office and the FBI are investigating whether he tampered with witnesses or suborned perjury by telling women not to cooperate with investigators on the Levy case, law enforcement sources told The Times.
Police detectives on both coasts are reinterviewing at least six women who claim to have had affairs with Mr. Condit, who is married. The investigators also are seeking other women he may have been involved with. They will ask both groups whether Mr. Condit’s insistence on secrecy evolved into commands to lie or be uncooperative with police, law enforcement sources told The Times.
Authorities also want to reinterview staffers about Mr. Condit’s statements and statements they have given throughout the investigation to determine if they knowingly lied or were duped by their boss, law enforcement sources told The Times.
The probe began after a San Francisco flight attendant who said she had a 10-month affair with Mr. Condit told police Mr. Condit and his emissaries had pressured her to sign a false affidavit and told her not talk to FBI agents.
Mr. Condit, through a written statement, denied telling anyone not to cooperate with authorities.
Forensic evidence is still being analyzed at the FBI lab in Quantico, Va. Test results will be available late next week at the earliest. Experts are analyzing evidence gathered from Mr. Condit’s apartment in Adams Morgan during a consent search, as well as items from Miss Levy’s apartment and other evidence from the case.
Staff writer Robert Treadway contributed to this article, which is bassed in part on wire service reports.