Commentary: Gary Condit deserves an apology

The Sacramento BeeNovember 24, 2010 

It turns out a Salvadoran immigrant murdered Chandra Levy, or so a District of Columbia jury ruled on Monday with little fanfare.

Ingmar Guandique is, as the saying goes, an "illegal alien," but even that generated little outrage this week.

How soon we forget.

Nine years ago, Levy's case was an American obsession.

It was the featured story in the 24-hour news cycle because the prime suspect in the disappearance of the young Modesto woman was then-Rep. Gary Condit, a ranking Democrat.

Before that, Condit was a big deal in Sacramento, an influential assemblyman who tried to take out Speaker Willie Brown – and a lawmaker who had a reputation with the ladies.

That reputation became a drug for the media after Levy's disappearance. District of Columbia cops initially – and incorrectly – focused on Condit. He was all but convicted in the court of public opinion.

This was the daily drumbeat in the summer of 2001, until Sept. 11. Then public interest shifted, the trail leading to Levy's killer grew cold, Condit's political career was destroyed and Levy's family suffered in relative obscurity.

We moved on.

Like the O.J. Simpson trial or the JonBenet Ramsey case, the police, the media and the public all were soiled until another story diverted our attention.

Perhaps the closure of the Levy case was ignored because it's uncomfortable to look back and acknowledge it was wrong to fill in the blanks of Levy's murder with Condit.

To read the complete column, visit www.sacbee.com.

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