Local Politics

Push for secrecy in Edwards sex tape case questioned

Posted May 5, 2010 10:17 a.m. EDT

— A Superior Court judge ordered Wednesday that a deposition given by the mistress of two-time Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards be sealed for at least 45 days.

Judge Allen Baddour said attorneys for Rielle Hunter and Andrew Young would then have to agree on what segments of Hunter's testimony could be made public.

Hunter, a former campaign worker who gave birth to Edwards' daughter, sued Young, once a top aide to Edwards, in January, claiming that he took a videotape that purportedly shows Edwards engaged in extramarital sex and photographs of him with his daughter.

Hunter says that the items were removed from a house Young rented for her in Chatham County, and she alleges that Young wanted the video and photos to generate publicity for "The Politician," his tell-all book about Edwards' affair.

Young asked the the suit be dismissed because Hunter repeatedly canceled appointments to give her deposition.

Baddour ordered Hunter to give a deposition after repeatedly questioning the need for secrecy in a case that has been splashed across tabloid newspapers and entertainment television shows for months.

Hunter discussed the affair last week on "The Oprah Winfrey Show," and she also gave a lengthy interview to GQ magazine, a story most noted for a photo of Hunter surrounded by stuffed toys on a bed while wearing only a shirt.

Young, meanwhile, also has appeared on Winfrey's show, as well as morning news shows to promote his book.

"There is going to be discussion (in the deposition) of things of a personal, private nature," said Alison Van Laningham, one of Hunter's attorneys. "Without the court's intervention, there is a great potential for abuse.

"The public disclosure of those private facts can't come back."

Baddour pointed out that depositions aren't filed in court and generally aren't public materials, but Hunter's attorneys said they fear Young would use statements made during her deposition in future interviews.

Young's attorney, Robert Elliot, said he worried that Hunter would use anything Young says after the deposition to pursue a contempt of court ruling against him.

"Mr. Young has been very professional in keeping this information from the public," Elliot said.

In March, Young surrendered copies of the sex tape and CDs filled with photos to another Superior Court judge who had threatened to jail him on a contempt charge. The items will be kept under seal until the lawsuit is resolved.