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How Can Levy Profile Help Resolve her Disappearance?

Aired August 3, 2001 - 12:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "LARRY KING LIVE")

LISA DEPAULO, "TALK" MAGAZINE": If this ends as badly as I think it's going to end, the really sad thing is that this woman, what she wanted most was a monogamous marriage. She wanted to get married, she wanted to have kids. She was monogamous, but she was attracted to men who would never, ever, ever give her that. And it's really tragic that that was what was happening.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COSSACK: Today on BURDEN OF PROOF: Secrets and lies; the relationship between Gary Condit and Chandra Levy. It was familiar territory for a young intern who had a history with married older men. In a story spun daily by all sides, can the Levy family legally stop personal stories about their daughter, and can Congressman Condit tap into campaign cash to bankroll his defense arsenal?

ANNOUNCER: This is BURDEN OF PROOF with Roger Cossack.

COSSACK: Hello and welcome to BURDEN OF PROOF.

For three months, police in the nation's capital have been trying to find out what happened to Chandra Levy. The search had investigators combing the woods of Washington parks, but that search was called off earlier this week.

And earlier this week, an anonymous tipster claimed the former Bureau of Prisons intern was buried at a Virginia construction site, but that tip has been deemed a hoax. So it may be inevitable that police and journalists begin taking a closer look at the victim.

Now, last night on "LARRY KING LIVE" I spoke to "Talk" magazine editor Lisa DePaulo, the author of an intimate portrait of the person central to this probe, Chandra Levy.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "LARRY KING LIVE")

DEPAULO: She was terribly hurt. She told friends, I can never be hurt like this again.

I think what's so important about all of this -- I always felt that the dynamic of the relationship with Gary Condit was key to understanding what has happened to her. And I think the, you know, emotional road map that she brought to that is part of the reason she was so determined to get this commitment from him.

You know, she doesn't fit the psychological profile at all of a woman who is attracted to married men. She has an incredibly loving family -- affectionate, there's no distance, which is usually the typical thing. You know, obviously the other theory is you try to replicate what you know or what works. But what's so sad about it is that what she wanted so much was in such direct conflict with the men she loved and trusted.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COSSACK: So Joining us today here in Washington are criminal defense attorney Bernie Grimm, former Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Colombia Pam Stuart and former District of Columbia Police Detective Trevor Hewick.

And from New York, we're joined by former FBI Profiler Candice DeLong, author of "Special Agent: My Life on the Front Lines as a Woman in the FBI."

Candice, let me start right with you. You had experiences in profiling and investigating cases like this, or similar to this. Talk to me about whether or not it's helpful to find out this kind of information about the possible victim.

CANDICE DELONG, FORMER FBI PROFILER: I'm sorry, could you repeat that? I didn't get it.

COSSACK: Candice, what I was wanting to find out was whether or not it is helpful in terms of solving a case to be able to know more about the victim; to find out these kinds of facts about the victim, to be able to profile the victim?

DELONG: Yes, in developing what we call a victimology, which is an intense study of the victim. Everything about the victim in a case like this, whether it be a missing person case or a homicide investigation, the more you know about the victim, hopefully, the more you can understand how they might have behaved in the last few days or hours before they disappeared.

COSSACK: And in this case, in this story that came out yesterday -- actually it comes out August 8 on the newsstand -- but in talking with Lisa DePaulo, one of the things that we found out historically about Chandra Levy was that apparently, Lisa said so in the magazine, she has had a history, if you will, of affairs with older, married men. How would that fit in if you were putting together a profile of her?

DELONG: Well it's -- you know, it's an interesting picture. I did read that article. It -- as your guest on "LARRY KING" last night said, it just was so much in conflict with the family she had, the supportive, loving relationship with her parents, her father. It just is so inconsistent.

However, it's also very significant. And what I'm seeing more and more, especially as I read that article in detail, a picture of a very, very naive young woman.

COSSACK: One of the points in the article that, again, comes out August 8 in "Talk" magazine -- one of the points of the article was that at the end right before Chandra Levy disappeared, there seemed to be some -- a culmination, if you, or at least an intensity of the relationship on her part with Congressman Condit. That she told her friend, et cetera, that she wanted to make this work and wanted a commitment from him. Would you take that into consideration, in terms of trying to solve this case?

DELONG: Well, it's certainly something that can't be overlooked. I mean, according to this article, not only was she -- I mean, she wanted a commitment, she wanted him to leave his wife. That shows me a tremendous lack of understanding on her part about how the world works.

But it also is a picture of a very determined young woman. And one can only -- has to speculate, or certainly wonder how far would she have gone? Would she have threatened him in any way? What was the, quote, "good news" about -- great news, big news, whatever it was that she had told her aunt that she would -- she wanted to share. I mean, it certainly stirs the pot.

COSSACK: Trevor, in terms of what the police knew and what the police didn't know, they apparently knew about what was happening with Congressman Condit. But perhaps other things that are revealed in this magazine article may not have been known by the police. Should they have gone ahead and found these things out?

TREVOR HEWICK, FORMER D.C. POLICE DETECTIVE: They should have from day one. I'm sure the police department right now is kicking themselves.

COSSACK: And why is that, Trevor?

HEWICK: They've been embarrassed. They've been embarrassed by the way this investigation has unfolded, how the media has done a better job of investigating this case than the police department. And they are learning facts -- more facts now that they should have learned at the beginning if they would have asked the tough question, and they just did not ask the tough questions.

COSSACK: Now, we don't know for a fact what the police know and what the police don't know. Is it your opinion that probably they did not -- have not didn't a victimization profile like...

HEWICK: I'm sure they didn't, only because they didn't have the information from the parents to gather that information. The parents weren't being truthful from the beginning. The aunt wasn't being truthful from the beginning. I don't know what this strategic decision was to not tell the police this information, but they had not done that, and they couldn't have done that because they didn't have the right information.

COSSACK: Pam, from a prosecutorial standpoint, one of the things that's pointed out in this article is this sort of ratcheting-up at the end. Chandra Levy lost her job, was moving and suddenly makes -- at least the article make it appear that things were coming to a head. Is that the kind of thing that would cause, perhaps, more investigation as to -- or focus an investigation on this relationship?

PAM STUART, FORMER ASSISTANT U.S. ATTORNEY IN D.C.: Well, I think it suggests that, during the last few days of her public existence -- that is, when people knew she was here, she was undergoing some incredibly stressful events. And people do strange things when they're under that kind of stress.

Perhaps if, as we've been led to believe, the congressman told her that their relationship was over, she may have decided that she wanted to take some sort of retaliation or make him sorry for that. Maybe she was angry with him. We don't know because, of course, we haven't been let in on the secret discussions with the investigators. But certainly they should be probing that.

COSSACK: All right, let's take a break.

Is Chandra Levy considered a public figure now? And if so, does that make her character fair game to the press? Don't go away.

(BEGIN LEGAL BRIEF)

Gold Club Owner Steve Kaplan agreed to a plea bargain Thursday in which he received a three-year prison term. The deal allowed some of Kaplan's former employees to remain free. As part of the deal, Kaplan also had to pay $5 million and turn the club over to the federal government.

(END LEGAL BRIEF)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COSSACK: Chandra Levy was last seen on April 30, 2001. At first, she was just one of thousands of missing people in America. Now Chandra Levy has become a household name with major media attention focusing on the investigation of her disappearance.

Candice, I want to go back to you a second, and ask you to take us and our viewers through this -- the kind of investigation that you would have conducted when you were active with the FBI. And I know that you did profiling work, and did this kind of work. How would you start, knowing the facts that you have?

DELONG: Well, first of all, a criminal personality profile really can't be done in a case until a body is found. Right now it just strictly is a missing persons case. But the very first thing you'd want to do is learn everything you could about the person; talk to close friends, family. Women tend to have girlfriends that they talk, at least somebody -- one person in their life that they share their intimate details with.

And then of course, and this is because you would want to take to every male -- every adult male in her life starting with the one she was closest to and then, you know, spreading out like concentric circles. And the reason for this is about 76 percent of the time an adult woman in America is murdered, she's murdered by someone that knows her. And almost half of that number are murdered by men with whom they had an intimate relationship -- boyfriend, husband, lover -- either at the time of the murder or previous to it. And so that's just something that you just have to do.

COSSACK: OK, now let's talk a little bit now about law and public figures.

Bernie, one of the things that's happened, of course, is Chandra Levy has become very, very well-known to the press through the media and to the public. Now this article comes out that allegedly -- talks about her past. Is that within the scope of libel, or is she protected?

BERNIE GRIMM, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Of course, the famous case is "New York Times" versus Sullivan. And, in theory, if one is a public figure, you have less recourse than a private citizen.

There's pros and cons here. Her family has been able to use, up until now, the media almost as a sword and a shield. It's been a sword because the benefit has given this investigation an energy and a dynamic and an impetus that normally an investigation would not have. And it's forced the police department to respond.

On the other hand, when something comes out, like this "Talk" magazine article, that's frankly not too flattering of Chandra Levy, I'm sure the family is cringing, and I can feel their pain.

But I would, in answer to your question, she's a public figure now. Her family has thrust her into the public spotlight. They have no recourse. Pam is shaking her head "no," but there is no recourse for them.

(CROSSTALK)

COSSACK: Pam, let me -- I see you shaking your head "no," and one of the questions I want to ask you is, what happens if you become an unwilling public figure?

STUART: Well, that's the point, Roger. Chandra Levy took no steps to put herself in the public eye. If anything, her parents have described her as a private person. She has certainly become a public figure involuntarily and -- but I'm sure that any legal recourse that she might have because of that is much secondary to finding her, hopefully, alive.

COSSACK: All right, now let's take the other side of this discussion and talk about Congressman Gary Condit, who also, perhaps, was a public figure before this all started, but clearly has had things written about him. Does he have any recourse?

STUART: I think very little, because by definition as a member of Congress you are a public figure. You put yourself out before the press, you are conducting the public's business. And therefore, the standard that Bernie spoke of, the "New York Times" versus Sullivan standard would apply. He could only sue if somebody printed something with actual malice that was untrue. And that's very, very hard to prove.

COSSACK: All right Trevor, this article points out that there was -- what we know, there was a relationship between them -- between Chandra Levy and Condit. And it implies, at least, that there was this tension, this ratcheting-up right before Chandra Levy began to disappear -- Chandra Levy did disappear. As a police officer, how do you use those facts?

HEWICK: And again, I don't know if that's true. I mean, she's going through a lot of different changes in her life. But I've got to believe that she still has her whole life in front of her because, one, she is graduating. She's always got something to drop back on, which is her family in California.

I'd still play it out; I'd still investigate it; I'd still go to the family that's very close to her and find out from them, you know, what is going on, what is happening with your daughter, what is she experiencing in Washington, D.C.?

COSSACK: And Bernie, let me put you, now, in the seat of the defense lawyer. Police keep keep saying Congressman Condit not even the focus of this investigation -- certainly isn't a suspect. But then this article comes out that, you know, tells some stories about her and, again, doesn't make him look very good. What do you do?

GRIMM: Well, if I'm the police at this point, it is clear that there's a pattern of deceit from the congressman. I think Pam will agree that this sort of client for a lawyer -- a defense lawyer is -- there's no amount money that's too much to charge this person, because he's impossible to deal with...

(LAUGHTER)

GRIMM: ... He's literally impossible to deal with. He's served Abbe Lowell up on a plate more than one occasion. You stop him from going to the police at this point. I don't know if Pam agrees with that or not.

COSSACK: There's always that conflict between the political side and the legal side, Pam.

STUART: Well, I'm sure Bernie charges much more than I do, but I totally agree with that. And in some respect, representing members of Congress is more difficult...

COSSACK: Which you have done.

STUART: Yes -- and -- because they are typically listening to advisers other than their lawyers, and...

COSSACK: That whole conflict between the political side and the legal side.

STUART: That's right. COSSACK: All right, let's take a break.

We talked about paying those legal fees to Bernie Grimm. So who is paying Gary Condit's legal fees? Could it be his supporters in Modesto? Stay with us, and let's find out.

(BEGIN Q&A)

Q: Police in Michigan have spent the past two days searching for what escaped prisoner?

A: A three-and-a-half foot alligator. The alligator was being kept in a penned area outside an animal shelter a few miles away from the police station.

(END Q&A)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COSSACK: Although police are not considering him a suspect, the focus on Congressman Gary Condit has forced him to assemble a strong legal team. According to a "Talk" magazine article, his staff is checking to see if campaign funds can be used to cover the legal expenses he is incurring.

Now, the FEC, the Federal Election Commission, has specific guidelines regarding how elected officials can use their excess money. And the question is asked this: If he was not an elected official, would he have to hire all of these lawyers?

A tough question; a tricky question. Bernie, what exactly does this mean.

GRIMM: If he wasn't an elected official, he couldn't hire all these lawyers. The average Joe doesn't have that amount of money. Hopefully for Abbe Lowell, the interpretation by the Federal Election Commission is that legal fees are covered. I think it's pretty clear by the language it allows legal fees, but it's legal fees for legal...

COSSACK: Protection of the office.

GRIMM: Legal protection for conduct that's incurred during the course of your candidacy, not something way outside the scope of it, which this is. This has to come out of his own wallet.

COSSACK: All right. Now according to the article -- the "Talk" magazine article, Gary Condit does not own any stocks, and he owns his home; but other than that, that's what he has. We all know that legal fees are going to be highly expensive in this situation.

Is this the kind of thing -- what if he said this, Pam: I'm not hiring lawyers to protect me in a criminal case because I'm not even charged or indicted with anything; I am merely hiring lawyers to handle the media and handle press relations, which is an adjunct to my being a congressman. The money could be used then. STUART: Yes, and I think that's the argument he will make, Roger. But there's no question that this need to hire these people -- and he has a public relations firm on board as well as his lawyers -- is as a result of his private conduct.

COSSACK: Well, but -- Bernie, let's go back. I mean, private conduct, but...

GRIMM: Condit's going to say, you attacked me, I didn't do anything. I'm presumed innocent under the law. I had a relationship with the woman; that was it. I'm not responsible for her disappearance. All these allegations against me are just allegations; I have to protect myself. I have to protect my office, my constituency. You forced me to hire these lawyers would be his argument. I don't know if I agree with it, but that's his argument.

COSSACK: All right Pam, what's the other argument? Listen, pal, you put yourself in the middle of this?

STUART: Yes. You should stay home at night and eat pizza and watch TV and not go chasing after interns.

COSSACK: And if you had done that...

STUART: Then if you had done that you would have no need for high-priced lawyers and PR firms.

GRIMM: Just a Domino's bill.

STUART: Yes.

COSSACK: And Bernie, the FEC is going to say when they hear that they're going to -- when he says to the FEC, listen, I'm not charged with anything.

GRIMM: Right, I agree with Pam. His own conduct -- his own alleged conduct got him into the situation he got him into. The public shouldn't be financing the lawyers here, he should.

COSSACK: All right, Trevor, let's talk a little bit about the hoax tip that just came in. What have police -- how do they decide, one, whether or not it's a hoax; and can you ever find the person who may have given this tip to prosecute them?

HEWICK: Well, hopefully -- I hope that they're working on trying to trace down that individual.

But you take in all the tips you can get. You want to have the tips; you want to have people calling in. You want people to be involved in this. Obviously you're going to have the crank phone calls, the crank tips. But someone that does call in, you don't want to discourage them, because if one-tenth of what they tell you is the truth that might lead you to solving, you know, the eventual goal that you're trying to reach -- so you play it out.

COSSACK: So you must get, you know, as you say, hundreds of tips. How do you decide which is a good one and which you just flip in the wastepaper basket?

HEWICK: It's pretty easy. If you know your case and you have confidence in your ability, it's easy to determine a lie from a factual...

COSSACK: How is it easy?

HEWICK: No, you -- I knew -- I was on the street. I mean, when I was doing my job well, I could tell a person was lying to me, and it's something you develop. It's just years and years of being on the street and dealing with people. You can tell when people are lying to you.

COSSACK: Well, OK. I'll give you you can tell when people -- but this was apparently a three-page tip, fairly detailed, describing the condition of the body. I mean, it was pretty detailed and saying: in a parking lot at Fort Lee.

HEWICK: And you have to try to understand how this is being taken down. The person is calling on a telephone; there's a person taking down the call. Are they contributing to this conversation? Are they asking questions the caller doesn't have an answer to, but because you keep asking them the questions, the caller is probably going to make up things and be specific when they're really not specific. So you have to figure out, you know, how much did the person that took the call contributed (sic) to the information.

COSSACK: Whether or not the person who takes the call fills in the blanks.

HEWICK: Right.

COSSACK: And how do you go about doing that? This WeTip has obviously been in existence 30 years; you know, an organization that funnels information to the police.

HEWICK: You get back to the individuals and you go back to the training that they get. But I'll almost guarantee you that that person did put words into this caller's mouth. It happens quite a bit.

COSSACK: Bernie, I want to go back to what we talked about earlier, the defense of Congressman Condit and that contention between the -- that tension between the legal end of it and the political end of it. How do you try and work that out -- that notion that, you know, somewhere along the line he has to face the voters.

GRIMM: Right. I think it's an impossible fence to straddle. You either satisfy the voters in Modesto or you shut down your camp and say, I'm not talking to police, no DNA, no searching my apartment.

You can't satisfy both the public and your constituency. I think Pam would agree, and she's had experience in this. You either have to get into a self-preservation mode where you don't want to find yourself indicted one day and tell everybody, I realize I'm never going to be elected again. COSSACK: Pam, you represented a member of Congress who had problems similar to this -- not in any way having to do with a death. But what was your advice, as much as you can tell us?

STUART: Well, certainly we acted the same way Abbe Lowell is acting with respect to the client. We wanted to make sure that any statements were made by the lawyers, not by anybody else and that he took his advice from us and followed it. That was difficult with his political advisers coming from the other side.

COSSACK: There's always that tension.

All right, I'm afraid that's all the time we have today. Thanks to our guests; thank you for watching. Join us again Monday for another edition of BURDEN OF PROOF. I'm going to be in Los Angeles, and I'll see you from there. Bye-bye.

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