Local Politics

Court blocks surrender of Edwards sex tape

Posted February 9, 2010 3:32 p.m. EST
Updated February 9, 2010 4:54 p.m. EST

— The state Court of Appeals on Tuesday blocked a judge's order calling for the surrender of a videotape purportedly showing two-time Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards engaged in extramarital sex.

The order came after former Edwards aide Andrew Young turned over the tape to beat a 2 p.m. Wednesday deadline, said Young's attorney, Mark Edwards.

Superior Court Judge Abraham Penn Jones on Friday ordered Young to turn the tape and other items over to the court, where they would be sealed until a lawsuit involving Young and Rielle Hunter, a campaign staffer who had an affair and a child with Edwards, is resolved.

Late Sunday, Jones amended his order to require that a security officer accompany Young to a safe deposit box in Atlanta to retrieve the tape. The judge said he wanted to ensure the items were properly surrendered and that no copies remained outside of the court's custody.

The revised order also said another security officer would retrieve photos from Young's laptop in Raleigh and would scrub the computer to ensure the image files were completely erased.

Young appealed the revised order Monday. Mark Edwards said scrubbing his computer could destroy potential evidence in the civil case.

Hunter sued Andrew and Cheri Young on Jan. 28, saying they had taken a video she described as "very private and personal," as well as two campaign videos she shot and eight pictures of her daughter.

She alleged that Young and his wife wanted the items to generate publicity for his new book, "The Politician," which chronicles John Edwards rise and fall and provides details of his affair with Hunter. She obtained a restraining order that prevents the couple from using the videos or photos.

The videos were in a box in a Chatham County house the Youngs rented for Hunter in 2007, while the photos were on her digital camera or laptop, she said.

The Youngs said last week that they kept the items only to back up details in the book and never intended to profit from them. Still, they contend in court filings that Hunter left the items in a box in their home for more than two years, so she no longer can asset ownership over them since they were abandoned.