Spanier, Freeh lawyers to meet in court over delaying defamation case

mdawson@centredaily.comNovember 13, 2013 

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Louis Freeh addresses the media during a press conference at the Westin Hotel in Philadelphia on Thursday, July 12, 2012. He released the findings of his investigation into the Penn State scandal.

CHRISTOPHER WEDDLE — CDT photo Buy Photo

A Centre County judge will decide whether former Penn State President Graham Spanier’s pending defamation lawsuit against the author of the Freeh report can be paused while he fights criminal charges that stem from the Jerry Sandusky scandal.

The lawyers for Spanier and Louis Freeh will argue their positions in front of Judge Jonathan Grine at 1:30 p.m. Jan. 9 in courtroom No. 1 of the Centre County Courthouse.

The scheduling announcement came Wednesday, a day after Freeh’s lawyers demanded that Spanier reveal the specific defamation allegations in a complaint.

So far, Spanier’s lawyers have filed a writ of summons, or a notice of intent to sue, on the grounds of defamation. Last month, Spanier’s lawyers asked that his pending lawsuit be put on hold, saying he could be at a disadvantage in this lawsuit because of his criminal trial and because possible witnesses Tim Curley and Gary Schultz would not testify for him.

But Freeh’s lawyers said Spanier can’t ask for a delay because he has yet to file the formal complaint. Freeh’s lawyers also blasted Spanier’s lawyers for criticizing the former FBI director in the media last summer.

Spanier was fired Nov. 9, 2011, after the Jerry Sandusky scandal rocked the university. Penn State trustees then hired Freeh to investigate how Sandusky was able to molest young boys on campus.

In a report last summer, Freeh concluded that Spanier, fellow administrators Curley and Schultz, and football coach Joe Paterno hid abuse allegations against Sandusky.

Lawyers for the four former university leaders deny the accusations in the Freeh report.

Spanier, Curley and Schultz are awaiting trial in Dauphin County on charges of perjury, obstruction of justice, conspiracy, child endangerment and failure to report abuse. Their lawyers have said their clients are innocent and vowed to fight the charges.

Paterno died in January 2012.

Penn State is paying for Spanier’s criminal defense, but the university has said it will not pay for the legal fees in the defamation case.

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