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Alleged John Edwards sex tape survives courthouse fire

By the CNN Wire Staff
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Courthouse in flames
  • Tape was the subject of a February hearing at the Chatham County Courthouse
  • Chatham County Courthouse in North Carolina burned on Thursday
  • The tape, which allegedly shows John Edwards and Rielle Hunter, had been moved

(CNN) -- A sex tape allegedly showing former Sen. John Edwards survived a fire that torched a North Carolina courthouse on Thursday.

Actually, the tape that was the subject of a February court hearing at the historic Chatham County Courthouse was not at the courthouse during the blaze, city officials said.

The tape, said to show Edwards and his former mistress Rielle Hunter, had been moved to another facility, said Debora Henzey, community relations director for Chatham County.

Seven fire departments responded to the blaze at the courthouse in downtown Pittsboro about 4:45 p.m. Thursday. It took firefighters hours to quell the blaze, which severely damaged the courthouse.

In February, the courthouse was the scene of the legal battle over the sex tape, with Hunter suing for its return.

At the hearing, Judge Abraham Penn Jones found former Edwards aide Andrew Young and his wife, Cheri, in civil contempt of court and ordered them to hand over the tape to the court.

In court documents, the Youngs had said that the video showed "Senator Edwards engaged in sexual activities with a woman who, from all indications, is not his wife and who the Youngs believe to be Ms. Hunter, based upon her appearance."

In January, Edwards admitted that he had fathered a child with Hunter, a videographer who worked on his 2008 presidential campaign.

Edwards had publicly denied paternity for more than a year. About a week after his admission, he confirmed reports that he had legally separated from his wife, Elizabeth.

Those announcements came just before Andrew Young released an embarrassing book about the Edwardses and his campaign.

CNN's Jessica Jordan contributed to this report.