No contempt for ex-Edwards aide over sex tape case

August 6, 2012 - 4:35 PM

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — A North Carolina prosecutor said Monday he wouldn't pursue contempt charges against an ex-aide to John Edwards related to a court fight over a video purported to show the ex-presidential candidate having sex with his former mistress.

A state judge in June assigned District Attorney Jim Woodall to weigh whether to pursue criminal charges against Andrew Young, his wife and two of their lawyers.

The contempt charges were tied to a lawsuit filed against the Youngs by Rielle Hunter, who was Edwards' mistress as he sought the White House in 2008. The state court ordered sensitive documents in the lawsuit to be kept under seal, including a lengthy deposition given by Edwards.

Young and his lawyers acknowledged providing those documents to federal prosecutors investigating Edwards prior to his 2011 indictment, but said they did so only after receiving a subpoena signed by a federal judge. Attorneys for the Youngs said they were asked by prosecutors to keep the subpoena a secret from Hunter and her lawyers.

A judge found that created probable cause that the four had acted in contempt of the court's order.

But Woodall determined "there is insufficient evidence to sustain a criminal prosecution in this matter beyond a reasonable doubt." The lead prosecutor for a two-county district that includes Chapel Hill, where both the Youngs and Edwards live, said the case would be dismissed.

Raleigh lawyer Philip R. Isley did not immediately return a call seeking comment. He represents Andrew Young, his wife Cheri and their lawyers Robert Elliot and David Pishko.

Andrew Young was the government's star witness at Edwards' campaign corruption trial this spring, spending more than a week on the witness stand. Edwards was acquitted on one count and the jury deadlocked on five others. The U.S. Justice Department decided against retrying Edwards.

Young was once so loyal to Edwards he falsely claimed paternity of the baby the presidential candidate fathered with Hunter. The Youngs helped hide Hunter from the media for nearly a year in a coast-to-coast odyssey. Then Andrew Young turned against his former boss and testified for the prosecution under an immunity agreement.

The civil case between Hunter and the Youngs was settled earlier this year with a state court order that required copies of the sex tape to be destroyed, though federal prosecutors may still have a copy. A hearing on the contempt of court issue was delayed until after Edwards' federal trial.

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Emery Dalesio can be reached at http://twitter.com/emerydalesio