ABC’s James Hill reports:
It's getting nasty in the civil dispute between erstwhile friends of John Edwards.
Last week Edward’s former mistress Rielle Hunter accused former-aide Andrew Young of secretly passing thousands of pages of sealed civil court records – including the depositions of Edwards and Hunter – to the federal prosecutors the criminal case vs Edwards.
And today, Young's lawyers fired back, calling the accusations "scurrilous" and "defamatory" and asking the judge to sanction Hunter's attorneys for making "patently groundless claims."
Young's motion, filed this morning in state court in North Carolina, claims that Hunter's attorneys – prior to filing their motion – were explicitly told by federal prosecutors that any documentation that the US Government obtained from the civil suit was obtained "through lawful process and under the authority of the federal grand jury."
Young and his attorneys expressly deny in the court filing that they shared any sealed documents with any third party.
In February Edwards gave a six-hour deposition in the civil suit, which Hunter filed in 2010 against Young. The suit alleges Young stole a sex tape featuring Hunter and Edwards and dozens of other personal photographs including pictures of Edwards with his then infant daughter, Frances Quinn.
Young has said he kept the tape and photographs only to back-up the claims he made in his book. None of the disputed images have ever been published.
Edwards was ordered to sit for a follow-up deposition, which had been scheduled for June, but that was put on hold by the judge until the criminal case is over.
Attorneys for Edwards learned earlier this month during a pre-trial hearing in the criminal case that the government was in possession of thousands of pages of documents and transcripts from the civil case. In a bit of intrigue, a federal prosecutor at that hearing cagily refused to tell the court exactly how the government had come to possess those documents.
Hunter’s motion alleges they secretly came from Young. And her attorneys argued that the disclosure of material “in complicity, cooperation or collusion with the government” was in violation of protective orders the civil court judge placed on the depositions and all the information obtained during pre-trial discovery.
Hunter’s attorneys have asked for a hearing on July 29.