PITTSBORO, N.C. — A former aide to John Edwards narrowly escaped jail time Tuesday over his handling of a videotape purportedly showing the two-time presidential candidate in a sexual encounter.
Superior Court Judge Abraham Penn Jones on two occasions declared that Andrew Young would be incarcerated for contempt, once saying he could spend up to 75 days behind bars. But Young's attorneys repeatedly batted away that option during a marathon court hearing and asked Jones to provide them a few more days for Young to provide a full accounting of how he handled various materials that Edwards mistress Rielle Hunter is seeking.
"My intent is for him to be truthful to the court and be thorough with the court," Jones said. He eventually decided to give Young until Friday to provide a full accounting of when they had certain materials, who saw them and where they went.
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.