Judge offers to help compel Edwards testimony in sex tape lawsuit

By Mike Baker, AP
Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Judge offers to help compel Edwards testimony

HILLSBOROUGH, N.C. — A North Carolina judge said Wednesday he was willing to order John Edwards to testify in a lawsuit about a sex tape involving the two-time presidential candidate.

Robert Elliot, an attorney for former Edwards aide Andrew Young, said he has been unable to serve Edwards with a subpoena because he has been difficult to find. He asked the judge for help in getting Edwards’ deposition by the end of this month, saying he’d like the judge’s support if he can’t find the former North Carolina senator soon.

“I’ll certainly sign an order to direct him to appear,” Judge Carl Fox said.

A lawyer for Edwards’ mistress, Rielle Hunter, said they would like time to make arguments before the judge takes that step. A spokeswoman for Edwards, Joyce Fitzpatrick, declined immediate comment.

Earlier, Hunter’s attorneys argued she should have some of the profits from Young’s tell-all book, saying she is entitled to an undisclosed amount of money because Young promoted it by talking about the sex tape. Hunter is suing to reclaim the video she made and believes the tape was taken from a box of her personal belongings.

Young contends that the tape was found amid trash that Hunter left behind in a home that he was renting, and his attorneys argued that the tape was a small part of his book.

“Nobody’s making money on the Edwards sex tape and nobody’s ever made money on the Edwards sex tape,” Elliot said.

Edwards is also awaiting the conclusion of a federal probe into his campaign finances. At Wednesday’s hearing, Young’s attorney questioned whether Hunter owned the tape or whether it belonged to the Edwards campaign.

“What possible purpose would a campaign want — or desire — a sex tape of a candidate involved in a sex act?” the judge said.

Elliot believes all video shot by Hunter belonged to the Edwards campaign or his political action committee.

Hunter worked for Edwards’ political action committee in 2006, shooting behind-the-scenes video as the Democrat prepared to launch his second White House campaign. The committee paid her video production firm $100,000 that year and then another $14,000 later on in what a senior campaign official described as a payment for leftover footage.

Hunter’s lawyers argued that the Edwards campaign did not want some videotapes and that she was directed to destroy the sex tape.

“The campaign did not want some tapes that would upset Elizabeth Edwards,” said attorney Wade Barber. “She was directed to keep those.”

Neither Hunter or Young were at the hearing.

John and Elizabeth Edwards have separated after more than 30 years of marriage.

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