Freeh to appeal delay in Spanier defamation lawsuit

mdawson@centredaily.comMarch 25, 2014 

Former FBI director Louis Freeh will appeal a Centre County judge’s ruling that has put on hold a defamation lawsuit brought against him by ex-Penn State president Graham Spanier.

A lawyer for Freeh filed a notice of appeal to the state Superior Court on Tuesday. The notice does not explain the grounds by which Freeh is appealing the decision by Judge Jonathan D. Grine last month to impose a stay on the lawsuit.

Spanier’s lawyers have yet to file a formal complaint outlining the allegations of defamation against Freeh, whose report in summer 2012 labeled the former president part of a conspiracy to hide abuse allegations against Jerry Sandusky. Spanier’s lawyers filed a notice that he intends to sue, and by doing so, he preserved the right to sue without the statute of limitations expiring.

Spanier is facing trial with fellow former administrators Tim Curley and Gary Schultz, and their pending criminal case was the reason Spanier’s lawyers asked to have the civil suit stayed. The lawyers argued that neither Spanier, Curley nor Schultz may testify given the criminal proceeding and that materials introduced in the civil case could be used against them in the criminal case.

Freeh’s lawyers have argued time and again that Spanier cannot ask for a stay without first making public the allegations. Freeh’s lawyers have also said the former FBI director wants to clear his name of the accusation implied by Spanier’s lawsuit.

Grine agreed with Spanier’s lawyers, saying Spanier testifying could hurt his defense in his criminal case. Grine put a stay on the case until further notice.

Freeh was hired by Penn State to conduct an investigation into the Sandusky scandal. Emails from late 2011 that were released recently show that a former federal official, Michael Chertoff, was also a finalist for the job.

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