Contempt of court charges were dismissed Friday against former John Edwards aide Andrew Young and his wife Cheri, that emerged over the couple's handling of a purported sex tape allegedly made by the one-time presidential candidate and his mistress, Rielle Hunter.
North Carolina Superior Court Judge Abraham Penn Jones ruled the Youngs have been "purged" of contempt charges and would not be going to jail. But Jones said the Youngs were "not out of the woods" and that the order could be reversed if it is proven that they lied.
"I'm thoroughly convinced that there have been numerous discrepancies in the affidavits filed in this court, and it's troubling," Jones said. "I'm not pleased with the way this is unfolding and as long as I'm the jurist on the case, in any context, this has got to stop."
I hope to god you're telling the truth, because if it turns out wrong, you're going to pay for it," he continued.
The Youngs told the court today they lost a flash drive that may contain revealing photos of Hunter during her pregnancy, but said that they had turned over to the court all copies of the sex tape that had been in their possession. Young was also asked to name everyone he could have possibly shown the tape to while it was in his possession.
The contempt charge arose out of a civil suit filed by Hunter against the Youngs, which accused them of invasion of privacy, and sought to prevent them from distributing a video tape and other photos, which she contends are her property.
In an earlier hearing, lawyers for Hunter accused Young of lying in sworn statements about how many people he showed the sex tape to and if there are any additional copies he did not hand over to the court.
The ex-aide handed over the alleged sex tape, along with additional items, including a CD of photos, to the court last month, except for a copy of the tape that was given to the FBI in Washington, D.C., as part of a grand jury investigation into Edwards' campaign finances.
Today, Young's lawyers blamed the discrepancies in his account of the sex tape to the ex-aide's "chaotic and difficult life."
"Somehow the crux of this case is forgotten. This is about a woman having sex with someone else's husband, running for president," said Robert Elliot, an attorney for Andrew Young.
The Youngs dodged a trip to jail on Tuesday. The judge said he was ready to send the Youngs to jail for up to 75 days for contempt of court, but then changed his mind and gave the couple until Friday to hand over any missing items, including any copies of the tape and to provide an explanation for how they handled the materials.
In Tuesday's hearing, the judge said that he held the Youngs in contempt because he believes they were not truthful about the disposition of the items he ordered the Youngs to turn over.
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Hunter, 42, was granted a temporary restraining order last month to prevent Young from distributing the tape and other photos, which she contends are her property.
The judge has yet to rule on ownership, but gave Youngs' new legal team permission to view the tapes in the court's posession. Hunter's attorneys say this a continued invasion of her privacy.
Sex Tape Revealed in Young's Book
The existence of a sex tape, along with other revelations on Edwards' affair and allegations of an expensive cover-up of Hunter's pregnancy, came to light in Young's new tell-all book, "The Politician."
Hunter said she made and hid a videotape that "depicted matters of a very private and personal nature" in or around September 2006, according to an affidavit filed Jan. 28, 2009.
Young said the woman in the tape was noticeably pregnant. While the woman's face is not seen in the video, Cheri Young said the woman is wearing a bracelet and a thumb ring typically worn by Hunter. Young, who had worked for Edwards since his 1998 Senate win, said he was absolutely sure it was Edwards in the tape.
In a second affidavit, submitted after Young had handed over copies of the tape to the court, Hunter said that after viewing the tape, she was able to recall when and where the tape was made and that she was not pregnant at the time. She called the Youngs' public assertions to the contrary lies.
Hunter claimed the video was left in a hatbox where she kept personal items, like her passport, in a house that the Youngs rented for her. The Youngs said the video was found in a box of trash in their own home after Hunter stayed with them for several weeks in 2007.
Young told ABC News that he'd been offered a "gigantic" amount of money to sell the tape.
Hunter also has filed suit against the Youngs to seek damages for invasion of privacy.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.