HILLSBOROUGH — In a court hearing Tuesday, lawyers for Rielle Hunter accused Andrew Young of stealing a sex tape featuring former presidential candidate John Edwards, then repeatedly lying about it.
The hearing marked the third time in a month that lawyers for Hunter and Young, a former aide to the former senator, have squared off in court in an attempt to secure all copies of the tape, as well as such items as photos Hunter took of herself while pregnant and of Edwards with their child.
Hunter sued Young and his wife, Cheri, last month over who owns the sensitive material. Young, who previously swore he was the father of Hunter's baby to cover for his former boss, has written a book about the affair and has frequently appeared on national TV to promote his book.
Though she has yet to appear in court, Hunter's legal team released a sworn affidavit from her Tuesday in which she said the tape and photos were not abandoned, as the Youngs have claimed, but were in storage with other property in a Chatham County home leased for her in 2007.
"It is horrifying to me that my privacy has been so invaded, even more so because it was part of an effort by the Youngs to make money," Hunter said, according to the affidavit. "Andrew Young and Cheri Young took my personal property that was extremely important to me, including the video recording marked 'Special' that I intentionally mangled and cut to prevent anyone from viewing it. They repaired that tape, watched that tape, copied that tape, talked about it repeatedly on national television programs and showed it to others for their monetary gain."
The Youngs say they found the tape in a box of trash after they were asked to clean out Hunter's belongings from the home while she was on a cross-country odyssey hiding in luxury hotels and the vacation homes of her lover's wealthy political patrons.
On Tuesday, they turned over to the court an expensive video camera that Hunter had said was hers, as well as medical bills the Youngs said Hunter gave them to be paid after the birth of her daughter. She had no medical insurance, the Youngs said. In addition, they also turned over a photo of a list of 34 men's names titled "The Slut Club," apparently penned by Hunter, though the Youngs said they no longer have the original document.
The two sides have been represented by at least 12 lawyers between them, and the case, still in its early stages, has already consumed about eight courtroom hours and a small forest of trees for the voluminous legal fillings. Added to that stack Tuesday was an extensive brief in which Hunter's lawyers outlined more than two dozen instances where they said the Youngs had lied in past statements to the court.
No plans to back down
Hunter's representatives pushed for Superior Court Judge Abraham Penn Jones to have the Youngs jailed for not fully complying with past orders where he found them in contempt. Jones declined to do so Tuesday but scheduled yet another courtroom hearing to determine their progress toward compliance.
Neither side appears to be backing down from what is likely to be a protracted, and very expensive, legal duel. Andrew Young has repeatedly said the couple have no plans to sell the tape or some of the more sensitive photos, but he maintains they are his property and that he needs them to validate his story.
Hunter's legal team, meanwhile, questions Young's truthfulness and intentions.
"If they don't have a malicious purpose, then why not return the items?" asked Allison Van Laningham, one of Hunter's lawyers. "It doesn't make sense for someone with proper motives to fight this fight."
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