Local/State

Former Edwards aide won't face contempt charge

Monday, August 06, 2012
Andrew Young

Former aide to John Edwards, Andrew Young, left waits at the Chatham County courtroom in Pittsboro, N.C., Friday, Feb. 5, 2010 for a hearing over over a "private" videotape authored by the candidate's mistress. (AP Photo / Jim R. Bounds)

A special prosecutor has decided not to pursue contempt charges against ex-John Edwards aide Andrew Young, his wife, and two of their lawyers.

In June, North Carolina Superior Court Judge Michael R. Morgan appointed Orange County District Attorney Jim Woodall to look into the matter related to a court fight over a video purported to show the ex-presidential candidate having sex with his then-mistress Rielle Hunter.

A judge previously found probable cause for contempt charges arising from a lawsuit filed against the Youngs by 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 have 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.

Young was the government's star witness at Edwards' campaign corruption trial, spending more than a week on the witness stand. Edwards was acquitted on one count and the jury deadlocked on five others.

An aide once so loyal he falsely claimed paternity of Edwards' baby with Hunter and helped hide her from the media for nearly a year, 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, but a hearing on the contempt of court issue was delayed until after Edwards' federal trial.

Woodall is the lead prosecutor for a two-county district that includes Chapel Hill, where both the Youngs and Edwards live.

He told ABC11 Monday that while he determined that there was probable cause that criminal contempt had occurred for failure of parties and attorneys to follow orders in the case, he doesn't believe there's sufficient evidence to sustain a prosecution beyond a reasonable doubt.

Woodall will dismiss this contempt issue.

Probable cause was restricted to one thing: did Young and his attorneys give notice that federal authorities were seeking information from them.

Although Young's attorneys didn't give notice to the other side, the attorneys did consult with the judge overseeing the civil case because federal officials had directed attorneys to keep it confidential.

The attorneys had conflicting directives and there was no willful violation of the law, according to Woodall.

Woodall did look beyond Judge Morgan's probable cause concern.

But, Woodall said there's no solid evidence to establish that before US Attorneys' Office issued subpoenas, that the Youngs may have provided federal investigators with information.

Late Monday afternoon, Andrew Young released the following statement: "Cheri and I are happy that District Attorney Jim Woodall has decided to dismiss these charges. It is our belief that our lawyers did their best to understand and comply with the conflicting orders of a federal and a state judge. Cheri and I had no involvement in this whatsoever. Once again, we are glad to put this behind us."

(With background material from Associated Press writer Michael Biesecker)

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(Copyright ©2014 ABC11-WTVD-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved - The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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andrew young, john edwards, rielle hunter, local/state
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