PITTSBORO — Superior Court Judge Abraham Penn Jones threatened repeatedly to send Andrew Young to jail Tuesday for being untruthful about copies made of a sex tape featuring former Sen. John Edwards and his onetime mistress, as well as photos of the then-presidential candidate and his love child.
"I don't like to be played," the judge said sternly. "[Young] has submitted affidavits that are full of, to use a nice word, inaccuracies. I find it difficult to accept what has been said to me at face value."
But before the judge could order bailiffs to take Young away, lawyers for the former Edwards aide managed each time to talk Jones out of locking him up.
At issue was an order the judge issued in January requiring Young and his wife, Cheri, to turn over all videos, photos and documents related to the mistress's relationship with Edwards pending the result of a lawsuit over who owns the materials. The court hearing Tuesday was the fourth in little more than a month held to determine whether the Youngs had complied.
A bevy of lawyers for Edwards' former mistress Rielle Hunter presented evidence that Young had been repeatedly untruthful or failed to disclose key information in past courtroom testimony and six sworn affidavits.
Called to the witness stand to explain himself, Young said the discrepancies were the result of a faulty memory and his chaotic life as a busy author of a best-selling tell-all book on a national media tour, rather than a willful attempt to hide the truth.
"We've been through hell in the last two and a half years," Young said. "We're talking about an incredibly stressful time. ... I'm trying to be as truthful as I can."
Young had sworn in his most recent affidavit that he had shown the sex tape to only a handful of people, including a producer for ABC's "20/20" television program, writers he talked to about potentially helping with the book and a representative of his publishing house. Young said he had to show the tape to prove the story of his role in hiding Edwards' affair was true.
Hunter's lawyers countered with an affidavit from Robert Draper, a freelance journalist from New York who ghostwrote Edwards' 2003 book "Four Trials." Draper said Young had invited him to the couple's Chapel Hill home in March 2009 to talk about writing a new book about the couple's cross-country odyssey with a pregnant Hunter while her lover campaigned for president.
After sushi and several bottles of wine, the two men retired to Young's office. Draper said Young then played the sex tape for him on a big-screen television.
Challenged as to why he failed to disclose the screening with Draper, Young said he had no recollection of the event and that, in the past, he often drank too much.
"Whether it's the wine or the time, I have no recollection of that," Young said. "I'm not denying it happened; I just don't remember it."
Jones said he was concerned by the omission of the meeting with Draper, as well as the whereabouts of a missing thumb drive to which Young said he had copied dozens of photos of a nude, pregnant Hunter and of Edwards with the baby he long denied was his. Also in question was whether Young had burned an additional DVD copy of the sex tape that had yet to be turned over, as well as a list of the names of 34 men penned by Hunter and titled "The Slut Club."
About 7 p.m., shortly after one of Hunter's lawyers openly called Young a liar, Jones again announced he was sending him to jail for up to 75 days for contempt of court.
"I'm at a loss of what to do but see what I will get if his freedom is removed," the judge declared.
But Robert Elliot, one of Young's lawyers, pleaded with the judge to give his client one last chance to be completely forthcoming.
Jones relented and scheduled yet another hearing for Friday.
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