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Ex-Rep. Condit’s defamation suit against Az weekly dismissed

A judge dismissed former U.S. Rep. Gary Condit’s defamation lawsuit against an Arizona newspaper that said the Democrat had lied to investigators about his relationship with a Washington intern who was later found dead.

The Sonoran News, a weekly that describes itself as “The Conservative Voice of Arizona,” had included the statement in a 2005 article about Condit’s brother.

Condit served 13 years in Congress before losing re-election in 2002 after the disappearance of the intern, Chandra Levy, whose remains were found in May 2002 in a Washington park.

Condit denied involvement in Levy’s disappearance and death. No one has been charged in her death.

Judge Kristin Hoffman ruled that Condit was a public figure, had failed to prove that the statement was false, and had failed to show that the newspaper published it with either knowledge that it was false or with reckless disregard as to its truth.

An affidavit provided by Condit did not deny that he lied to investigators, and he balked at answering questions on whether he told investigators that he had a “romantic and-or sexual relationship with Chandra Levy,” Hoffman wrote in her ruling, filed Thursday.

Condit attorney Jeff M. Brown of Boca Raton, Fla., was disappointed with the ruling and said he and his client had not decided whether to appeal.

“It’s unfortunate that there’s no protection for public figures in Arizona and that the defamations can just be repeated, irrespective of their truth,” Brown said. “I don’t think we could have proved any more than we proved.”

Condit reportedly told police he had an affair with Levy, but in a sworn deposition in an earlier defamation case, he denied being romantically involved with the intern and insisted “we were friends.”

After losing his congressional seat, Condit and his wife, Carolyn, bought a home in a Phoenix suburb, according to Maricopa County property tax records. Brown declined to say where Condit lives.

Sonoran News lawyer Daniel Barr said the newspaper would ask that Condit be ordered to pay its legal fees.

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