In early May of 2001, Chandra Levy, a 24-year-old intern for the Bureau of Prisons in Washington, D.C., went missing. Her body was found nearly a year later.
In the intervening months, Modesto, Calif. Congressman Gary Condit faced some tough questions after admitting he knew Levy. But Condit thinks some members of the media went too far, and he has sued. The Early Show correspondent Tracy Smith has the story.
Condit has filed an $11 million slander lawsuit against Vanity Fair writer and crime book author Dominick Dunne. As part of the legal process, both men were deposed on camera. Smith says, "We have both videotaped depositions, and I sat down with attorneys for both Dunne and Condit and, in an exclusive interview, with Condit's son, Chad."
"I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy," Chad Condit told Smith.
She says he's "still angry about watching his dad Gary's political career come to a scandalous end."
Chad Condit continued, "Having your dad dragged through the mud on Main Street, basically in front of everyone, has been a difficult thing to watch."
But now, Smith points out, Gary Condit is once again facing questions about his relationship with Levy.
In the deposition, when asked by Dunne lawyer Paul LiCalsi to describe his relationship with Levy in general terms, Condit replied, "We were friends. …It wasn't a romantic relationship."
LiCalsi pressed on, asking what Condit understands the words "'romantic relationship' to mean."
Condit replied, "One of unusual affection, where you pay attention to people and so on and so forth.
"Was there any physical intimacy of any kind in your relationship?" LiCalsi wanted to know.
"I instruct Mr. Condit not to answer the question," Condit's attorney, L. Lin Wood, interjected at that point.
It may not look like it, Smith observes, but this time, Condit's the one on the offensive.
More from the deposition tapes obtained by CBS News:
Dunne: "I have a low opinion of Gary Condit."
Question: "And how long have you had a low opinion of Gary Condit?"
Dunne: "I've had a low opinion of Gary Condit almost from the beginning ofof Chandra Levy."
Dunne, notes Smith, was one of the many members of the media who covered the story of the summer of 2001, when Levy left her Washington, D.C., apartment, and disappeared.
While police searched for clues, Smith recalls, the media scrounged for details about Levy's relationship with Condit, her hometown congressman.
At the time, on local TV, Condit said, "I am not going to share the details of my relationship with Chandra."
Investigators combed Condit's apartment and interviewed him at least four times, but he was never named a suspect. Still, polls showed he was losing the public relations war.
Condit lost his re-election bid in March 2002.
Two months later, Levy's body was found in a Washingon park.
The case is still unsolved.
Claiming he was defamed, Condit sued the owners of the National Enquirer. That case settled late last year. Now, he's going after Dunne.
During the deposition, Condit said, "Mr. Dunne sells himself as a court reporter, a mainstream press person," Condit has said. "He went on the air and called me a murderer, and said I had something to do with the kidnapping, that I plotted the kidnapping. That's what you said, Dominick."
The lawsuit, Smith reports, focuses on a theory Dunne discussed on radio and TV, told to him by a source he called "the horse whisperer." According to that source, Condit complained about Levy to some Middle Eastern contacts, so they kidnapped her, then threw her body out of a plane.
In the deposition, Dunne said he no longer believes this theory: "I just don't know that I have a theory now of what happened to her."
Condit attorney Wood then queried, "Well, it wasn't the horse whisperer story, was it?"
Dunne's reponse: "It sure wasn't."
Wood: "I mean, you acknowledge now that you got hoodwinked?"
Dunne: "I did."
Smith asked Wood how Condit was damaged. "How is anyone damaged in the terms of their reputation if they're falsely accused of murdering another individual?" Wood replied. "How do you measure that damage?
"Can you really pin that on Dominick Dunn, though?" Smith continued.
"Absolutely. Absolutely," answered Wood. "It's one thing to say, 'Well, could he have been involved?' It's an entirely different thing to accuse him of being involved in a crime. That's what Dominique Dunne did. And that's the reason he had to be sued: to be held accountable for those statements."
Dunne lawyer, LiCalsi, countered with, "I think if people and the jury will hear the actual interview with Dominick Dunne, it will be quite clear to them that Dominick Dunne didn't accuse Condit of anything."
Did Dunne call Condit a murderer?
Says LiCalsi: "Absolutely not... The radio show that Dominick was on when he made the statements that he's being sued for um – (the) subject being discussed, some leads that Dom had heard of some theories…of what might have happened…and in no way did it involve Condit murdering or being criminally involved with her disappearance."
So, what's a reputation worth?, Smith wonders. In this case, she observes, there may be a price tag.
"We believe that Condit is simply trying to shake down Dominick Dunne," LiCalsi says. "He's trying to make money from this scandal and still won't accept the responsibility for having destroyed his own reputation with his constituents and with the American people."
Smith asked Chad Condit if he can "understand why some people in the public think that your dad was less than truthful about his relationship with Chandra Levy?"
"Can I understand it because he didn't call a press conference or handle the PR decisions like they wanted him to?" replied Chad Condit. "I can understand them differing with him on his decisions. I can understand that, yeah. But I can't understand when somebody calls him a murderer. That goes beyond the line."
Next week, both Dunne and Gary Condit face more questions in depositions. This time, Smith points out, a judge has ordered Condit to answer at least some questions about the nature of his relationship with Chandra Levy.
Gary Condit has the right to ask the judge to seal his deposition. So we might not see it.