Penn State ex-prez v. FBI ex-director

Graham Spanier , former PSU president, leaves a hearing held yesterday in City Hall.
Graham Spanier , former PSU president, leaves a hearing held yesterday in City Hall.
Posted: May 23, 2014

WHILE ATTORNEYS for men connected to the Jerry Sandusky case advocated for their clients' reputations in a City Hall courtroom yesterday, veterans without jobs or housing fought in a very different way for their reputations at a Veterans Resource Fair six floors below in City Hall's courtyard.

The sounds of former soldiers looking for work carried up those six floors and into the fancy courtroom, at times drowning out the voices of lawyers for former Penn State University president Graham Spanier and former FBI director Louis Freeh.

Spanier is suing Freeh and his law firm for defamation in connection with the 250-page "Freeh Report" they were commissioned to write by Penn State. In the report, Spanier is accused of covering up the child abuse committed by Sandusky.

Under state law, defamation suits have to be filed within a year of the alleged act. Last year, a day before the one-year anniversary of the Freeh Report, Spanier's attorney filed a one-page writ of summons stating that Spanier was suing Freeh for defamation. To date, there has not been a complaint filed outlining Spanier's accusations against Freeh.

Yesterday's hearing before the three-member Superior Court panel, which was attended by Spanier but not Freeh, revolved around a lower court's decision to permit Spanier and his lawyers to hold off on filing the complaint and pursuing the civil case until a criminal case against Spanier is resolved.

The lower court's decision, in part, revolved around concerns that any testimony Spanier offered in his civil trial, including the complaint, could be used against him in criminal court.

Spanier is facing charges of perjury, endangering the welfare of children and related offenses for allegedly failing to report the sexual abuse Sandusky committed. No trial date has been set yet in the criminal case.

Freeh's attorney, Michael Kichline, argued that they appealed the ruling to compel the filing of the complaint.

"If you have complaints, bring them forth," he said. "We want to take these claims directly on!"

Spanier's lawyer, Elizabeth Ainslie, argued that forcing the civil case to move forward before the criminal case is complete could cause many witnesses to invoke their right against self-discrimination.

Kichline indicated that he may file a motion to move the case to federal court.

Outside the courtroom, Ainslie said the situation is "fairly unprecedented" for everyone involved.

"Obviously, I am hoping that the entire matter will be dismissed and that Dr. Spanier will be vindicated," she said.

Spanier did not answer questions from reporters after the hearing. The Superior Court panel is considering the case.

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