Graham Spanier’s Freeh lawsuit hearing moved up to Jan. 7

mcarroll@centredaily.comJanuary 2, 2014 

A hearing has been moved up for former Penn State President Graham Spanier’s request to pause his pending defamation lawsuit against the author of the Freeh report while the former Penn State president fights criminal charges stemming from the Jerry Sandusky scandal.

Lawyers for Spanier and Louis Freeh will now argue their positions before Judge Jonathan Grine at 10 a.m. Tuesday in the Centre County Courthouse.

The hearing was originally set for 1:30 p.m. Thursday, but Spanier’s lawyer, Elizabeth Ainslie, asked that it be rescheduled because she was not available on the first date.

Freeh’s lawyers have challenged Spanier’s request for a delay, arguing the former university president must first reveal specific defamation allegations.

So far, Spanier’s lawyers have filed a writ of summons, or a notice of intent to sue, on the grounds of defamation. 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.

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 in summer 2012, Freeh concluded that Spanier, and fellow administrators Curley and Schultz, hid abuse allegations against Sandusky.

Lawyers for the former university leaders deny the accusations from 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.

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.

Matt Carroll can be reached at 231-4631. Follow him on Twitter @Carrollreporter.

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