Condit refuses to testify about whether he had affair with Levy

By Keith L. Alexander
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Former congressman Gary A. Condit, who has been at the center of the Chandra Levy case from the day the former federal intern disappeared nine years ago, took the witness stand in public Monday but refused to answer one key question.

Asked at least three times in D.C. Superior Court whether he had an intimate relationship with Levy, Condit remained defiant.

He readily answered other questions. He raised his right hand and swore he didn't kill Levy. He said he had nothing to do with her disappearance. He described her as a friend and constituent. But he steadfastly refused to go any further.

"I don't believe it's relevant," Condit said at one point. "I am not going to respond to that question out of privacy for myself and Chandra."

The relationship between Condit, then a Democratic congressman from California, and Levy made her disappearance international news in 2001. For months, Condit was the main suspect, and his picture and Levy's were featured on magazine covers and TV broadcasts. Police cleared him and later focused on Ingmar Guandique, 29, who is on trial in Levy's death.

Guandique's name was not mentioned during Condit's two hours on the stand.

Condit lashed out at police and the media for focusing on him. "It was outrageous," he said.

Calling Condit to the stand was a risky move for prosecutors but one they thought necessary. Although Condit has been tied to the case, prosecutors sought to dismiss him as a suspect in front of the jury and allow him to testify about the last time he saw Levy and the last time he heard from her.

The closest that prosecutor Amanda Haines came to asking about Condit's relationship with Levy, 24, was to inquire why he had not told police that he'd had an affair with her.

Condit, 62, said that he thought he, his family and Levy were entitled to privacy and that that the country had lost its sense of "common decency."

The questioning by Maria Hawilo, one of Guandique's attorneys from the public defender's service, was more tense.

Condit repeatedly told Hawilo that he and Levy were "friends," and he would not say anything else about their relationship.

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