Some of the mystery of who was behind the news leaks about Delaware Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr.'s plagiarism in law school has been cleared up -- and it appears that the Democratic presidential contender was victimized by someone out to protect him.

According to an article by Jill Abramson and James Lyons that will appear in Monday's Legal Times, the publication received a telephone tip Sept. 11 from a source who said he'd heard about a plagiarism incident involving Biden during a Sept. 4 dinner conversation with Craig Christensen, a former dean of the Syracuse University Law School.

Abramson said the source was an academic from another law school and appeared to have no political background or motive. The source described himself as upset over what he had heard about the 1965 incident, which occurred when Biden was a first-year law student at Syracuse.

Christensen, who stepped down as dean this summer but remains a professor at Syracuse, acknowledges telling friends that night that he had taken the precaution a few months earlier of locking Biden's student transcript in his office safe. He said he did so after receiving inquiries from the press about Biden's academic transcript, which he ignored, and from Biden, which he responded to. But he said in an interview that he did not discuss the 1965 incident at the Sept. 4 dinner party.

Yet The Legal Times reports its source steadfastly maintains that Christensen divulged the plagiarism and "did not even present it as confidential."

This may clear up how Biden's law school record was made public. But still unanswered is which of Biden's rivals prepared a videotape juxtaposing Biden's words with those of British Labor Party leader Neil Kinnock and distributed it to the press.