Judge to former Edwards aide: Turn over sex tape

Staff writerFebruary 5, 2010 

— A judge has found former John Edwards aide Andrew Young and his wife, Cheri, in contempt of court for not turning over a sex tape featuring the former senator and his mistress, Rielle Hunter.

The Youngs appeared Friday morning at a Chatham County courthouse to answer a claim that they should return a sex tape featuring the former senator.

The Youngs said after the hearing that they never had any intent of distributing the tape or showing it publicly. They said they have no problem with turning the materials over to the court to be sealed until the civil case over possession is resolved.

The tape "of a personal nature" is in a safety deposit box in Atlanta, Ga. Other materials are being held by a lawyer in Washington on a laptop in Raleigh.

The judge ordered all of the materials turned over to the court by Wednesday at 2 p.m. At that time, there will be a hearing in Hillsborough to determine whether the Youngs have complied.

Until then, the Youngs are in contempt of court. The judge chose not to have the couple arrested but reminded them that he could place them in custody at any time.

The legal challenge was brought by Hunter, who says Young has no right to family photographs and the tape. Young has said he has rejected many offers to sell the tape, which he said he found after it had been discarded. Young said he has kept it to help prove his account of how he helped Edwards cover up his affair with Hunter.

The purported sex tape of former presidential candidate John Edwards and Hunter is not in Orange County, say attorneys for Andrew Young, and therefore is not subject to a temporary restraining order won by Hunter seeking its return.

Mark E. Edwards, a Durham lawyer representing Young, filed a legal response Thursday, before a court hearing on the issue scheduled for today. Hunter, who is the mother of a child the former senator fathered during an extramarital affair, is seeking the return of a "personal video recording that depicted matters of a very private and personal nature."

In his tell-all book released last week, Young, a former aide to John Edwards, described finding a discarded sex DVD while packing boxes in the Governor's Club home where Hunter lived with Young's family for a time. Young claimed paternity of the child in an attempt to hide the affair of his boss.

"It's not in Orange County," Mark Edwards said of the tape Thursday.

In his book, Young said the tape clearly shows Edwards in a sexual encounter with a pregnant woman, who is holding the camera.

The candidate hired his mistress as a videographer during his 2006 run for the White House, paying her $100,000 from his political action committee.

Last week, Hunter filed a motion requesting a restraining order shortly before ABC's "20/20" aired an hourlong show on Edwards' and Hunter's affair. In addition to the sex tape, she is seeking the return of videotaped interviews with Edwards and digital photos of Hunter and her daughter.

"Mr. Young and his wife didn't do anything improper in obtaining these items," Mark Edwards said. "Some were abandoned. Some were items Ms. Hunter uploaded on their computer."

Mark Edwards declined to say where the sex tape is now but contended that it is no longer in the Youngs' possession.

michael.biesecker@newsobserver.com or 919-629-4698

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