BELLEFONTE — Former Penn State President Graham Spanier’s lawsuit to make the university give him access to his old emails will go to court next month.
Lawyers for Spanier and the university are scheduled for a hearing at 10:30 a.m. Aug. 17 in the main courtroom of the Centre County Courthouse to argue their objections to the suit and dismissing it.
Spanier sued Penn State in May, saying he wants to review the emails to prepare for an interview with investigators led by former FBI director Louis Freeh. Freeh’s report is expected to be released this month, possibly this week before Penn State’s board of trustees meeting in Scranton on Friday.
Neither Spanier nor his attorney responded to requests for comment.
Senior Judge Paul Millin, of the Warren and Forest counties judicial district, has been assigned by the state Supreme Court to preside over Spanier’s civil suit. All of Centre County’s judges have recused themselves from this case.
Spanier’s attempts to obtain the emails started three months ago, when his attorney wrote to the university’s attorneys on April 18 requesting the emails.
But the university declined, saying they received “explicit instruction” from the deputy attorney general not to share the emails over worries of compromising the attorney general’s ongoing investigation.
That’s what prompted the lawsuit Spanier filed May 25.
The university’s attorneys objected to Spanier’s suit, reiterating their wish to comply with orders from the Attorney General’s Office. The university also said the emails belong to Penn State, not Spanier, and he should file a Right to Know request with the Attorney General’s Office.
Last week, Spanier fired back, asking the judge to overrule Penn State’s objections. Spanier argued that Penn State has the emails and can disclose them as they wish.
Spanier also said the emails should be released because of leaks to the national media in recent weeks.
Media outlets have reported on details of email exchanges in 2001 among Spanier and former administrators Tim Curley and Gary Schultz about how to respond to a report from then-graduate assistant Mike McQueary that he saw Sandusky in a shower with a young boy. Curley and Schultz are awaiting trial on charges they lied to the grand jury investigating Sandusky.
According to those news reports, Schultz allegedly wrote of a three-part plan to approach Sandusky, but Curley was dissuaded after talking to former head football coach Joe Paterno. Spanier called their plan to confront Sandusky first “humane” but said they could be vulnerable for not reporting it.
The news reports prompted the Paterno family to refute the accusation the coach had anything to do with stopping them from going to authorities.
And ESPN reported this weekend that the pieces of the emails that were leaked were taken out of context.
The emails were found by the Freeh team a few months ago and turned over to the Attorney General’s Office. Penn State’s attorney told Spanier in the letter in April that the emails weren’t known to exist when Spanier met with prosecutors in March 2011 about Sandusky and Penn State and when he testified before the grand jury on April 13, 2011.
When the grand jury recommended charges against Sandusky, prosecutors wouldn’t rule out Spanier as someone who could face charges. But Spanier has not been charged.
Spanier was terminated as Penn State president on Nov. 9, but remains on the faculty. As part of his contract, he received the title of emeritus president.
Curley and Schultz maintain they’re innocent, and their attorneys are scheduled for a status conference with a Dauphin County judge on Wednesday in Harrisburg.
Mike Dawson can be reached at 231-4616. Follow him on Twitter @MikeDawsonCDT