Local Politics

Edwards sex tape turned over to court

Posted February 10, 2010 3:23 p.m. EST
Updated February 16, 2010 4:57 p.m. EST

— A former aide to two-time Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards argued in court Wednesday that he has complied with a court order to surrender a videotape purported to show Edwards engaged in extramarital sex.

But the attorneys for Rielle Hunter, a campaign staffer who had an affair and a child with Edwards, repeatedly questioned Young's credibility and maintained that Young was in contempt of court.

"We have no insurance in our minds that they don't have other things," attorney Alan Duncan said.

Hunter sued Andrew Young and his wife 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 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.

A federal grand jury in Raleigh is investigating whether campaign funds were illegally used to cover up Edwards' affair.

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 maintained in court filings that Hunter left the items in a box in their home for more than two years, so she no longer could assert ownership over them since they were abandoned.

Superior Court Judge Abraham Penn Jones on Friday ordered Young to turn the videos and photos over to the court, where they would be sealed until the lawsuit is resolved.

Young said Wednesday that he went to an Atlanta bank on Monday to retrieve the sex tape and other items from a safe deposit box, and he turned them over to Wayne Truax, an independent security officer Jones ordered to take custody of the items and return them to Orange County.

"I did the best I could. To the best of my recollection, I've turned over everything," Young testified.

Truax said he brought everything back to Hillsborough on Tuesday, and the items were placed in a safe in the Orange County Sheriff's Office before being turned over to Jones on Wednesday.

The items included a videotape labeled "Special," four other VHS videotapes, two CDs with copies of photos and a USB drive containing photos.

Hunter's attorneys questioned Young as to the existence of other copies of the sex tape and photos, despite objections from his attorneys.

Young said he doesn't recall e-mailing any image or video files, but he did give a copy of the sex tape to his Washington, D.C., attorney to turn over to the FBI and the grand jury. He also showed a copy of the tape to ABC News before conducting a recent interview.

He added that his house has been broken into more than once, but he doesn't believe that anyone gained access to any image or video files.

"We didn't obtain anything without (Hunter's) consent," he said. "We've given everything we have to the court."

Jones said that, before he lifts his contempt order against the Youngs, he wants to ensure all image files related to the case have been scrubbed from their computers. He also wants to hear from Young's Washington attorney, who's been snowed in for several days. The judge scheduled another hearing in the case next Wednesday.

Hunter was in Hillsborough Wednesday in case she needed to testify at the hearing, but she never appeared in court.

As he left the courthouse, Young said that Edwards' wife, Elizabeth Edwards, has threatened him with an alienation of affections lawsuit.

"When we wrote this book, we fully anticipated for some very powerful people to come after us. As you can see from today, they've done that," he said. "The reason I am fighting for this is, first of all, they have called me and my family liars, and we are going to fight to the very even to prove that that's not true."