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Lawyer blasts 'media circus' over missing intern

Chandra Levy: The day after she disappeared friends found her bags packed in her apartment.
Chandra Levy: The day after she disappeared friends found her bags packed in her apartment.  

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A lawyer for California Rep. Gary Condit decried the "media circus" and "tabloid frenzy" surrounding his client in the disappearance of Washington intern Chandra Levy.

In an interview on CNN's "Wolf Blitzer Reports," attorney Joseph Cotchett described Levy as a "constituent" and a "good friend" of Condit.

He said the media are "looking now only at the relationship between a congressman and an intern when we should be devoting all our resources to finding this very fine young woman.

"It's a tragedy, and I just think the import of this so-called relationship is nonsense."

Levy was reported missing six weeks ago. Her parents Thursday urged Condit to come forward with any information he might have about their daughter.

"I urge him, if he does have any information, please be man enough to step forward and talk about it -- share it with the public or share it with us or with the officials," said Susan Levy, Chandra's mother.

Speaking to reporters Thursday at their home in Modesto, California, the Levys confirmed news reports that a family member told investigators Chandra Levy told the relative she was romantically involved with Condit. But the parents said they do not have first-hand knowledge of any relationship.

"Whether there's a relationship or not may or may not have anything to do with the fact that she's missing. That's what we want to know," added Chandra's father, Robert Levy,

Gary Condit denies he had a romantic relationship with Levy, saying she was a
Gary Condit denies he had a romantic relationship with Levy, saying she was a "good friend."  

Condit, 53 and a Democrat, is married and has two children. He has denied he had a romantic relationship with Levy, 24.

Cotchett said Condit may come forward to further discuss the case in a public forum, even though he would be subjected to answering "questions of a personal nature about his relationship with her which are totally unfounded."

He said the congressman has assisted the search for Chandra Levy by calling for the FBI to get involved in the case, giving interviews to police and contributing $10,000 to a reward fund.

Cotchett also noted that 453 people have been reported missing in the District of Columbia since January, including several young women missing from the neighborhood where Chandra Levy lived.

Her parents say they have not talked to Condit since early May, when he called to tell them he was adding money to a reward fund.

Levy was last seen on April 30 at a Washington gym. She had just completed an internship at the Federal Bureau of Prisons and was preparing to return to Modesto for her college graduation.

Friends found her packed suitcases, identification and credit cards in her apartment the next day. Police said they found no signs of foul play in the apartment, but they did send her mobile phone and laptop computer to the FBI lab to retrieve records of phone calls and e-mails.

Levy was a frequent visitor to the office of Condit, her hometown congressman, where one of her friends, Jennifer Baker, was an intern. Baker has told CNN that Chandra Levy told her she was dating someone in the FBI but did not say identify him.

In a statement released after her disappearance, the congressman called Levy "a great person and a good friend." Police sources have told CNN that Condit was interviewed by detectives working on the Levy case.

During a CNN interview in May, Susan Levy said she was "hurt" by speculation her daughter was romantically involved with Condit and said she thought Chandra was seeking his assistance in her quest to become an FBI agent. Her parents were more circumspect on Thursday when asked about her daughter's relationship with the congressman.

Asked if the family member told the Levys that Chandra said she had a romantic relationship with Condit, Robert Levy said, "Yes." Susan Levy added, "There's a lot we don't know."

"I think Mr. Condit or the person who was involved with my daughter, whoever that mysterious boyfriend [is], should step forward and talk about what's going on. All I want to know is where my daughter is," she said.

Condit has represented California's 18th Congressional District, which includes the Central Valley east of San Francisco, since 1989. A political moderate, he was one of the founders of the so-called Blue Dogs, a caucus of conservative and moderate House Democrats trying to pull their party away from the left.

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