RALEIGH, N.C. — The purported sex tape of former presidential candidate John Edwards and his mistress will be destroyed within 30 days after a lawsuit over who owned the tape was settled Thursday.
Rielle Hunter sued former Edwards aide Andrew Young and his wife in 2010 over the tape and other personal items the couple said she left in a box of trash while they were helping her hide out as the former North Carolina senator ran for the White House. Hunter lived with the Youngs while she was pregnant with Edwards' baby, and Young initially said he was the father.
In the settlement, the Youngs agreed to give up their claim on the tape and other property, which has been held in the vault of a North Carolina courthouse. Hunter has long wanted the tapes destroyed.
"We are very pleased that this settlement achieved all that she had ever hoped to achieve with this lawsuit," said Allison Van Laningham, one of Hunter's lawyers.
A lawyer for the Youngs said they were pleased with the settlement.
"There were no `winners' as such, in that each side had returned back to it that which it believed was its own property, although it was mutually agreed that certain materials should, per the court's order, be destroyed," lawyer David Pishko said. "Notably, notwithstanding the outlandish efforts of Ms. Hunter's legal counsel to try to paint Mr. and Mrs. Young as liars and thieves, nothing could be further from the truth – as is unequivocally evidenced by this settlement agreement."
The Youngs also agreed not to talk publicly about the tape or the other items, which include photos of Hunter in a bikini as well as picture of her with her child. There is also a tape of Frances Quinn Hunter's birth. She turns 4 years old on Monday.
The items also included a handwritten list of male names titled "The Slut Club." It was not clear in the settlement what the list was referring to.
The tape shows Edwards in a sexual encounter with a pregnant Hunter, who filmed the tape.
According to testimony in the lawsuit, the ribbon of tape had been pulled out of the cassette in an apparent attempt to destroy it. Andrew Young manually wound the tape back into the cassette so he couple play it in Hunter's video camera, which she had also left.
Young said he kept the tape as security and proof of his story while declining large financial offers for the video.
"There's a reason nobody's ever seen the tape," Young said in February 2010 outside a courthouse after a hearing.
The settlement does not address a pending contempt of court case against the Youngs and two of their attorneys for providing copies of items that had been under seal to federal officials investigating Edwards for campaign finance violations. The Youngs' lawyers have said they turned over the items in response to a grand jury subpoena.
In the settlement, the Youngs pledged to seek the destruction of any copies of the sex tape that may now be in the possession of the federal government.
Hunter was hired as a videographer by Edwards' political action committee 2006. After she became pregnant, Andrew Young claimed paternity of the unborn baby and resigned from the campaign. Hunter then moved in with the Youngs at their home near Chapel Hill. After tabloids suspected Edwards was having an affair and photographers staked out the neighborhood, Hunter and the Youngs fled, staying in luxury homes and hotels while traveling in private jets while Edwards continued on the campaign trail.
Prosecutors have accused Edwards of using nearly $1 million from two wealthy campaign donors to pay for Hunter's care and travel while she was pregnant. He was indicted in June on six felony and misdemeanor campaign finance charges. He has pleaded not guilty, and his trial is on hold because he needs treatment for a heart condition.
Edwards dropped his White House bid in early 2008 as the sex scandal engulfed his campaign. He admitted the affair with Hunter but denied fathering her child. Only months later, did he acknowledge the baby was his.
Edwards' wife, Elizabeth Edwards, separated from her husband and died in December 2010, with her husband reportedly at her side.
Andrew Young is expected to be a star witness for prosecutors at Edwards' upcoming criminal trial.
Young's lawyer said nothing in the agreement will prevent him from taking the witness stand.
"It has been suggested that one purpose of this lawsuit was an effort to intimidate and harass Andrew and Cheri Young who are expected to be witnesses in the criminal prosecution of Ms. Hunter's paramour, John Edwards," Pishko said. "If that was in fact the case, it has failed miserably."
AP interactive: http://hosted.ap.org/interactives/2011/edwards
Follow AP writer Michael Biesecker at twitter.com/mbieseck