Youngs spared contempt charge from Edwards sex-tape case

From Staff reportsAugust 6, 2012 

Andrew Young, the ex-aide to John Edwards, and his wife will not be prosecuted for criminal contempt for their actions in a civil case brought against them by Edwards’ former mistress, the district attorney for Orange and Chatham counties announced Monday.

In June, Superior Court Judge Michael Morgan asked District Attorney Jim Woodall to review whether Young, his wife, Cheri Young, and their two lawyers violated an order sealing evidence in the civil case. The violation allegedly occurred when the Youngs turned over sealed documents in the civil case to federal agents who were investigating Edwards’ campaign finances.

The civil case was brought in 2010 by Edwards’ former mistress, Rielle Hunter, over ownership of a videotape that purportedly showed Edwards and Hunter having sex. The Youngs said they found the tape in a box after Hunter moved out following a stay at their home near Chapel Hill. The case was settled in February with an agreement that the tape and any copies would be destroyed.

Woodall said he determined, “that although there was evidence sufficient to support a finding of probable cause that criminal contempt of court occurred during the civil proceedings, there is insufficient evidence to sustain a criminal prosecution in this matter beyond a reasonable doubt.”

Attorneys for the Youngs immediately informed the presiding judge, Superior Court Judge Carl Fox, when the Youngs received a federal subpoena seeking the material covered by the seal. But the Youngs and their attorneys failed to give Hunter and her attorneys notice that they were turning over sealed documents to federal investigators. The Youngs said federal officials had asked that their request be kept secret from Hunter and her attorneys.

Woodall said the Youngs and their attorneys appeared to be caught between the competing demands of two levels of government and did not willfully violate the seal.

In a statement, Andrew Young said, “Cheri and I are happy that District Attorney Jim Woodall has decided to dismiss these charges. It is our belief that our lawyers did their best to understand and comply with the conflicting orders of a federal and a state judge. Cheri and I had no involvement in this whatsoever.”

The federal investigation led to the indictment of Edwards, a former North Carolina senator and two-time contender for the Democratic presidential nomination, on charges that he violated campaign funding laws in an effort to hide his affair with Hunter. Edwards was acquitted after a trial that ended May 31.

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