|NMU||NEW YORK||Libel||Dec 17, 2002|
Condit sues Vanity Fair columnist over statements on missing intern
- The departing congressman asks for $11 million in a libel suit over comments connecting him with the murder of Chandra Levy.
Less than a month before leaving the U.S. House of Representatives, California Congressman Gary Condit filed suit Dec. 16 against media personality Dominick Dunne over comments Dunne made about the Chandra Levy scandal.
Condit’s suit, filed in a Manhattan federal court, claims Dunne defamed the congressman on multiple occasions — on radio, on television and in print. Dunne is a columnist for Vanity Fair magazine and makes frequent television appearances to comment on high-profile legal cases.
Condit faced intense media scrutiny after his name was connected with 24-year-old Levy, who disappeared in Washington, D.C. in May 2001.
Levy’s remains were eventually discovered in a park not far from her apartment. Investigators have not solved the murder but said repeatedly that Condit was not a suspect.
Court papers accuse Dunne of making false and defamatory statements associating Condit with the kidnap and murder of Levy.
The suit says Dunne spoke in media interviews about his theories that Levy was drugged and dumped out of an airplane or that she had been enveloped into a Middle Eastern sex-slave ring.
According to the papers, Dunne said he thought Condit was involved in the abduction and that Condit wanted to get rid of Levy because she was bothering him.
The suit says Condit has endured “public hatred, contempt and ridicule” as a result of Dunne’s statements and “has suffered a permanent impairment to his ability to obtain or maintain gainful employment.”
Condit lost his bid for re-election earlier this year.
The congressman seeks $1 million in compensatory damages and $10 million in punitive damages.
Dunne has declined to comment to the media on the lawsuit.
Condit’s wife, Carolyn, brought libel suits against two tabloids, the Star and the National Enquirer.
(Condit v. Dunne) — WT
© 2002 The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press