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Ex-Edwards aide narrowly avoids trip to jail

A former John Edwards aide narrowly avoids getting sent to jail for contempt over his handling of a purported sex tape showing the former presidential candidate.
/ Source: The Associated Press

A former John Edwards aide narrowly avoided getting sent to jail for contempt Tuesday over his handling of a purported sex tape showing the former presidential candidate.

Superior Court Judge Abraham Penn Jones has given Andrew Young until Friday afternoon to account for how he handled various items sought by Edwards' mistress, Rielle Hunter.

Jones told Young on Tuesday he was "troubled" by discrepancies in the statements that Young has made in court. He had said he would place Young and his wife in jail for up to 75 days for failing to turn over a DVD of pictures but allowed them time to explain themselves on the stand Tuesday afternoon.

Lawyers for Hunter are trying to recover the tape and other items they say belong to Hunter. Her lawyers have accused Young of "dozens of lies" in the dispute.

Young has described showing the tape to a few people and says he has turned in the copies that he had. Young's attorney chalked up discrepancies to "memory lapses."

Young described in written affidavits a limited number of people who have seen parts of the tape. But Hunter's attorneys produced an affidavit Tuesday of another man, freelance journalist Robert Draper, who said in a written statement to the court that Young also showed the tape to him in March 2009.

Young said in testimony Tuesday afternoon that he and Draper had been drinking one night at their home and does 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."

Cheri Young sobbed on a bench behind their attorneys.

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 recently showed the video to ABC News 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 sex tape, along with photos and documents, have been placed under seal.

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