Local Politics

More punches thrown in fight over Edwards sex tape

Posted February 23, 2010 10:36 a.m. EST
Updated February 23, 2010 6:17 p.m. EST

— The fight over a videotape that purportedly shows two-time Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards engaged in extramarital sex resumed Tuesday in an Orange County courtroom.

Attorneys for Rielle Hunter, a campaign staffer who had an affair and a child with Edwards, contended that former Edwards aide Andrew Young and his wife, Cheri Young, have defied a contempt of court order that they turn over all copies of the video, as well as photos of Hunter and her daughter.

"They have continued to play games with the court," said Wade Barber, an attorney for Hunter. "They should be in the sheriff's custody when they leave the courtroom."

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 book, "The Politician," which chronicles Edwards' rise and fall and provides details of his affair with Hunter.

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

Hunter obtained a restraining order that bars the couple from using the videos or photos, and Superior Court Judge Abraham Penn Jones found the Youngs in contempt for not immediately surrendering the items.

"If they don't have a malicious purpose when it comes to these items, why would they not give them back to her?" Allison van Laningham, an attorney for Hunter, said in court Tuesday.

Two weeks ago, the Youngs turned over to the court a videotape labeled "Special," four other VHS videotapes, two CDs with copies of photos and a USB drive containing photos. Jones said the items would remain sealed until the lawsuit between Hunter and the Youngs is resolved.

Robert Elliott, a new attorney for the Youngs, asked Tuesday that he be allowed to review the items turned over to the court, including the sex tape. Hunter's lawyers called that a further invasion of privacy. Jones didn't rule on the request.

The Youngs have said that they kept the items only to back up details in the book and never intended to profit from them. Still, they maintain 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.

"They have tried their best to comply with the court's orders," Elliott said. "They have done their best to cooperate."

that the Youngs have lied about how they obtained the video and that she never abandoned it or other items now involved in the court fight. She also says in the affidavit that the Youngs have 150 photos of hers, not just eight.

"The first thing in purging contempt and respecting the law is a very simple proposition – it is tell the truth – but that's not what we got," said Alan Duncan, an attorney for Hunter.

"Of all of the people that have been involved in this sordid, sad ordeal over the last couple of years, these are good and decent people," Elliott said of the Youngs. "(Andrew Young's) only fault in this whole ordeal has been too much loyalty to a man who betrayed him."

Jones gave the Youngs until March 5 to file another affidavit, swearing to the fact that they have turned everything over in the case. Another court hearing was set for March 9 in Pittsboro.