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Ex-Edwards aide narrowly avoids jail over sex tape

Andrew Young, right, former aide to former Senator John Edwards, speaks with his attorneys Robert Elliot, left, and David Pishko, center, during a hearing at the Chatham County Superior Court House in Pittsboro, N.C., Tuesday, March 9, 2010. John Edwards former mistress, Rielle Hunter, has sued Young for invasion of privacy. Superior Court Judge Abraham Penn Jones considered twice whether to send Young to jail for contempt over his handling of copies of photographs taken by Rielle Hunter. Andrew Young, right, former aide to former Senator John Edwards, speaks with his attorneys Robert Elliot, left, and David Pishko, center, during a hearing at the Chatham County Superior Court House in Pittsboro, N.C., Tuesday, March 9, 2010. John Edwards former mistress, Rielle Hunter, has sued Young for invasion of privacy. Superior Court Judge Abraham Penn Jones considered twice whether to send Young to jail for contempt over his handling of copies of photographs taken by Rielle Hunter. (AP Photo/Sara D. Davis)
By Mike Baker
Associated Press Writer / March 10, 2010

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PITTSBORO, N.C.—A former aide to John Edwards has been given until Friday to provide a judge with a full explanation of how he handled materials including a videotape purportedly showing the two-time presidential candidate in a sexual encounter.

Andrew Young narrowly escaped jail time at a hearing Tuesday in the courtroom of Superior Court Judge Abraham Penn Jones, who on two occasions declared that Young would be incarcerated for contempt. But Young's attorneys eventually convinced Jones to give them a few more days to provide a full accounting of how he handled various materials that Edwards mistress Rielle Hunter is seeking.

Jones wants to know more about when Young had certain materials, who saw them and where they went.

"My intent is for him to be truthful to the court and be thorough with the court," Jones said.

After the judge said he was prepared to send Young and his wife, Cheri, to jail, she began sobbing on a bench behind their attorneys.

Jones said he was particularly troubled by an affidavit produced by Hunter's attorneys Tuesday in which a man, Robert Draper, said the Youngs showed the sex tape to him in March 2009. Young had said in sworn statements that he had shown it to only a limited number of people -- and he did not mention Draper.

Young said in testimony Tuesday afternoon that he and Draper had been drinking one night at Young's house and he did not recall showing Draper the video.

"Whether it's the wine, the time or the stress, I don't know," Young said. "But I have no recollection."

Lawyers for Edwards' mistress, Rielle Hunter, accused Andrew Young of "dozens of lies." Along with the tape, they took issue with how Young handled some of Hunter's photos which were put on Young's computer. He said they were copied onto two flash drives, but that he later lost one of them.

Hunter's attorneys have also accused Young of lying when he initially claimed that the only copies of the tape had been sealed for more than a year in an Atlanta safety deposit box. Young has since said he showed the video to ABC News recently as he prepared to promote his tell-all book with the program.

An attorney for Young chalked up the discrepancies to "memory lapses" and said Young had done everything he could to turn over the materials to the court. The tape, along with photos and documents, have been placed under seal.

"They've turned over everything," said lawyer Robert Elliot.

Hunter has sued Young for invasion of privacy. Young has said he found the tape and other items in a home he had rented for Hunter.