Condit's slander suit over Chandra Levy dismissed

Congressman Gary Condit (D-CA) leaves his apartment building in Washington, in this July 12, 2001 file photo. REUTERS/Larry Downing

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A U.S. judge on Tuesday dismissed a slander lawsuit filed by former Congressman Gary Condit against journalist Dominick Dunne stemming from the 2001 disappearance of a government intern linked to Condit.

Former U.S. Rep. Condit, a Democrat from California, sued Dunne, an author and correspondent for Vanity Fair magazine, accusing him of slander for comments Dunne made on CNN’s “Larry King Live” about Condit’s involvement in the murder of Chandra Levy, a 24-year-old intern in Washington, D.C.

Condit came under close scrutiny amid the media storm that followed the May 2001 disappearance of Levy, whose remains were found a year later in Washington’s Rock Creek Park. Condit admitted having a “close relationship” with Levy but maintained he had nothing to do with her disappearance or death.

No charges were ever filed, and law enforcement officials said Condit was not a suspect in the case.

During a 2005 interview on “Larry King Live,” Dunne, whose own daughter was murdered in an unrelated case, said he believed Condit knew more about Levy’s murder than he had ever revealed.

U.S. District Judge Peter Leisure dismissed the suit and said Dunne’s remarks did not amount to slander. “The context in which Dunne’s statements were made demonstrates that they were part of a discussion about ‘speculation’ in the media and inaccurate media coverage,” the judge said.

In a separate but similar lawsuit filed earlier by Condit, Dunne was forced to pay an undisclosed sum of money under a settlement agreement in 2005.

Condit survived the Levy scandal but lost the Democratic primary when he sought reelection and left office by 2003.