Minister Says Daughter, at 18, Had an Affair With Condit
Thursday, July 12, 2001
FBI agents looking into the disappearance of Chandra Levy have approached and interviewed a Pentecostal minister who described an affair between his then-18-year-old daughter and Rep. Gary A. Condit, telling investigators that the congressman had warned her never to speak of the relationship.
Four law enforcement sources confirmed that the father, Otis Thomas, has been questioned by the FBI and that investigators are interested in talking to his daughter. Thomas, in an interview in which he described what his daughter told him of the affair, said that he has encouraged her to talk to the FBI but that she is afraid to do so and has gone into hiding.
Thomas said the relationship took place about seven years ago and that it ended in a tense breakup initiated by his daughter. Thomas said he decided to describe his daughter's account to FBI agent Todd M. Irinaga because he learned that the relationship was discussed by Levy and Condit in April, about two weeks before the 24-year-old intern was last seen.
Thomas's daughter, who is now in her mid-twenties, declined to discuss any aspect of the case. "I don't want to talk about any of that," she said in a brief telephone conversation this week.
Marina Ein, a spokeswoman for the Democratic congressman from California, yesterday accused The Washington Post of joining "the ranks of tabloids who have come to us with specious questions about a supposed affair."
"These questions are destructive, unfair and irrelevant," Ein said. "In fact, we are constantly placed in the impossible position of having to prove a negative. This is something we will not do."
Condit's attorney, Abbe D. Lowell, said, "This is beneath the dignity of The Washington Post."
Thomas's account of his daughter's affair with Condit has been known to the Levy family since mid-April, before Chandra disappeared. By then, the Levy family knew Chandra was having a relationship with the congressman, according to family members.
Thomas, who has parlayed his weekend groundskeeping at his Modesto, Calif., church into a weekday freelance gardening business, has done work at the Levy home for about four years. He had a conversation with Chandra's mother, Susan Levy, in April while he was tending roses in the back yard. The conversation continued by the pool, where Susan Levy brought him a cold drink. The two often talked about their children, and Thomas said he asked Susan Levy how Chandra was doing in Washington.
Susan Levy replied that Chandra was doing well and that she had befriended a congressman, Gary Condit.
"Mrs. Levy asked me if I know Gary Condit and asked me what I think about him," Thomas said. "She said she was asking about him because her daughter was friends with him in Washington."
Thomas said his daughter had asked him for advice about seven years ago, when she wanted to break off a bad relationship. He said he had been shocked when she told him the man she was seeing was Condit, whom she said she met at a political rally in the Modesto area, where she resided at the time.